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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Columbus Day

Why is it that America celebrates this day?  After all, it is well argued that Lief Ericson discovered the Americas first, and even that the Chinese may also have nearly a century earlier.  Yet it is not in fact this moment that we celebrate, but the myth of Columbus day itself that we try to remember.  It is the idea of what this day really stands for in our eyes that we want to show – the beginning of 'civilized' Europe's expansion to the Americas.  The interesting thing about it though, is that this is not a celebratory day, especially for the native Americans that were were displaced by this expansion.  The hundreds of thousands (or millions) that were killed in what would be considered genocide today would certainly not look at Western expansion in a celebratory manor.

In fact Columbus day is really a day to celebrate the beginning of the Westernization of 'America' and the Western expansion of the world in general.  It is not about a man, or a discovery, but about a shifting moment in time.  The time in world history where a 'new' world became available for use, and in 'American' history where the country began to become who/what it is today.  The problem is, that what was done to get to today, and also where the country actually is now are not exactly celebratory things.  Columbus was nothing more than another arrogant imperial Westerner.  He looked down upon the local population and saw them as easily malleable and conquerable.  He was merrily a pawn in the Western game of dominance.  But this type of statement has been laid out innumerably elsewhere   (i.e.: xxxyyy)

The key to understanding Columbus day is not about the man's legacy, it is about this very myth of what America would become, what this time had ushered in.  It began the Westernization of the world.  This is in fact what we now commemorate.  The day the world stood still, and one of the greatest travesties the world has been privy to (and especially since the Bubonic Plague of the 13/14th centuries) began to take shape...  Western expansion and expropriation of both the physical and social world.  In fact, the expropriation and enslavement of the rest of humanity.

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