Columbus Day: Celebrating Genocide Since 1937!

As a kid, I remember putting on plays demonstrating how brilliant, caring, compassionate and generous Christopher Columbus was in his life.

Today, I cringe at the idea that I, a skinny little white blond haired blue eyed boy, donned a paper headdress and pretended to be a Native American greeting Columbus on the shores of North America.

Columbus day is a somewhat recent invention. It was conceived by a Catholic fraternal organization called Knights of Columbus in 1930 as a way to prop up their Catholic hero. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the holiday into law.

Columbus obtained funding for his exploration from the seizure and sale of the properties of Jewish Spaniards and Muslims by order of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

Columbus, thrilled to take on the expedition, would reward the first person to sight new land with 10,000 maravedis, a sailor’s yearly salary. When a sailor spotted it, Columbus retracted the reward, saying he saw it already.

What a guy.

Columbus, so certain of his heading, landed in the Caribbean sea in what is present day Haiti. There, he and his Spaniards met the Arawaks, Tainos and Lucayans. They were an agreeable bunch of people, generally thrilled to meet some new friends from across the sea.