September 28, 2006

'Tis the debate

The first debate of the holiday season--the Columbus Day season, that is:

Columbus:  explorer or oppressor?

Pro-Columbus:Genocide takes intent. You have to really want to obliterate a group of people, erase them from the face of the Earth. Think of the Holocaust, or the current jihad by Islamofascists. So even if the charges they level against Columbus are true, which they aren’t, it isn’t genocide.Anti-Columbus:Schools have been misleading us about Columbus since the advent of public education, but it’s time to wake up and smell the crimes against humanity that occurred when Europeans first came here. Native Americans were abused, exploited and victimized by genocide.Note my comment at the end. For more debates on Columbus, see This Ain't No Party, This Ain't No Disco:  A Columbus Day Rant.


Not a Sioux said...

I first read the "pro-Columbus" summary on this blog, and found it so weak that I began to wonder if it was a sort of straw-man put up by anti-Columbians to make the "pro-Columbus" side look bad.

Then I dug into the actual exchange. The pro-Columbus side looks even weaker!

Example: discarding the anti-Columbus argument by wrapping it up in a dislike for Zinn. I myself detest Zinn as much more more than anyone: he is fond of Stalinism, and wraps his ideas into a framework of a completely laughable invalid ideology. However, the truth of the historic record about Columbus, what he did himself, and what came after him is an indelible part indisputed fact. You don't need Zinn to figure it out! I certainly did not.

Next is the already-mentioned weak defense "Columbus did not do genocide" as if that absolves him of directly making the lives of many people miserable and ordering the deaths of large numbers of innocent people. Jeffrey Dahmer did not technically commit genocide either. Yeah, slave owners don't want genocide because they want some slaves alive to do their bidding. Again, why is this any sort of defense? What makes it "good" for someone to kill 96% of a population and "bad" to kill 100?

Finally, the Columbus defender says "Why don’t the Columbus Day protesters spend some time protesting Queen Isabella or the Spanish nation?". Come on, show me one single Isabella Day or parade....

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
While writerfella isn't that great at debate, mainly because he simply can't talk at breakneck speed, he still has a position. And it is contained in the following:

By Russell Bates

The long white strand of island beach was empty. Tall beings who spoke a strange tongue and covered themselves in strange leaves long since had gone. After talking loudly near the water's edge, they had stepped aboard the small brown pods that had brought them and then had moved across the water to larger, cloud-topped pods in the bay. Then the winds had blown them off toward the faraway line where sky met water.

Footprints still marred the expanse of dazzling sand. A distance from the waves, a mound of that sand held a dully-reflecting brown slab. A rising heat shimmer distorted the air above it. Nothing more than footprints and the slab remained as evidence of the visit.

Nearby in the dunes, two naked Tainos men lay inmoving in a dense clump of scrub palmettoes. Sweat poured from their brown bodies; sea wind stirred sand against their faces and into their watching eyes; insects ran over their skin. Though the sun had been overhead when the pods departed and now was low in the afternoon sky, the Tainos remained in their hiding place.

Old medicine man and young apprentice, they ignored the tropic heat, watching for any other signs from the strange beings. Only distant thunderstorms sailed the waters beyond the island. Around the men, waves crashed and seagulls cried and warm, moist breezes blew. The beings did not return.

Near evening, the older man raised himself on one elbow and scanned the ocean. Cautiously, he got to his feet, peered all around at sea and sky, raised a hand to feel the wind, and finally sniffed the air itself. Then he walked out of the dunes above the beach. The younger man followed, glancing from side to side in fear.

Together, they walked to the mound of sand, mindful to avoid stepping on any footprints in their path. The Tainos stopped, once more searched the horizon, then looked down. The older man briefly held his own foot above one featureless print, then knelt carefully, his long black hair whipping in the cooling breeze. He reached out, touched the slab, recoiled a heartbeat, then gently picked up the heavy metal piece on one arm. Though it still was hot to the touch, he held it reverently and squinted at the side that had lain uppermost. His wrinkled fingers traced over the many raised cuts in its surface.

The younger man squatted beside him, reaching out tentatively. But the older man frowned and waved him back. He returned to his tracing, humming softly to himself.

"What is it?" the young Taino whispered, and they both shook nervously when he spoke. "What?"

"Great magic!" the old Taino said, and he pointed at a crescent of new moon above the sunset. "Moon spirits came and left this for us. Did you not see their skin? Pale as the moonlight!"

They slowly stood, glanced again out over the dusk-darkened water, then turned to look upward at the moon.

The medicine man raised the slab over his head and called out, "Tall Ones, we thank you for this gift of your love! We will take it and show it to the others! And when all of you turn your faces toward us again, we will feast and dance and pray over it!"

He lowered the slab again, at last allowing his apprentice to hold it. The younger man finally smiled. Nodding, they looked it over and touched the roughly-hewn markings.

They could not read it, and shortly it would become lost to time. But its meaning soon was to be known by all their people.

It said, in Spanish:



12 OCTOBER 1492 A.D.


The Tainos stood in their twilight and listened to the wind and the waves. Then the older man said, "Let us go."

They walked inland and disappeared among the darkening palms. Behind them, the incoming tide worked at erasing all of the footprints on the beach.

All Best
Russ Bates

Not a Sioux said...

Beautiful. I don't think there's any debate here; the other side isn't bothering to make a case.

Are you familiar with the book of Native-related fantasy short fiction edited by Piers Anthony? or "Tatham Mound" ?

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Yes, I am -- TALES FROM THE GREAT TURTLE, published back in the 90s. writerfella submitted this very story there but the co-editor lost it and never contacted me about same. So, though the story was scheduled to be in the book, it defaulted because the grad student was a genuine f***up.
In any case, Piers Anthony turned out to be somewhat an elitist, saying that he refused to go to modern powwows and other Native ceremonies because they were nothing like what they once must have been. What he did not ask himself was WHY those powwows and ceremonies were nothing like the originals.
writerfella is better off having put this story in an obscure publication called THE EXTRAVISIONIST, rather than appearing side by side with an editor of quasi-racist tendencies.
All Best
Russ Bates

Not a Sioux said...

I have "TALES FROM THE GREAT TURTLE" but have not read it yet. His novel "Tatham Mound" is perhaps the best thing I have read by him, though.

It looks like Piers Anthony is some sort of believer in the "vanishing Indian" stereotype, then? Where the Natives are GONE, and those who are left are too "sullied" to be called Natives?

Rob said...

The best Piers Anthony novel I've read is A Spell for Xanth.