— Genesis 13:14-15
Tomorrow, Oct. 8, is Columbus Day. As you might imagine, it’s not much of a holiday in my family. Kind of hard to get worked up about the life of a Genoese mercenary, slave-trader and pirate who stumbled onto the “New World,” and whose first dispatches to his financial backers consisted of cooing over how the friendly, curious Taino people he encountered would make excellent slaves.
Within a decade of Cristobol Colon’s arrival at Ayiti (which he renamed Hispaniola), virtually all the Tainos were wiped out through disease, murder and forced labor. Colon then turned to kidnapped Africans to replenish his supply of slaves. Within 150 years of Colon’s arrival, between 85 percent and 90 percent of the population of the Western Hemisphere was dead. Put in perspective, Colon is directly, personally responsible for the deaths of one-quarter of all the human beings on the planet Earth as they existed in the 15th century.
So brutal, incompetent and corrupt was he as governor that he was relieved of his duties and tossed in prison.
By the way, Barkman occasionally comments on this blog.