Denver, CO -- Oct. 7 - 10, 2005

This story was printed from Oregon Daily Emerald.
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Columbus Day celebrates lies, corporate greed

Guest commentary
October 10, 2003

One reason crimes against humanity continue is because some countries rationalize similar acts in their past that brought them to power. On Monday, October 13, the United States celebrates Columbus Day with parades and sales on consumer goods: Many people will honor one of history's most infamous mass murderers while they give their money to the corporations that continue his legacy of atrocity.

According to Howard Zinn -- selections from whose book "A People's History of the United States" will be featured in a reading Monday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the EMU's Ben Linder Room -- Columbus is not worthy. He didn't find Asia, and if the Americas had not been in his way the expedition would have failed. He lied to Madrid about his finds and was willing to commit any act of barbarism to satisfy his greed. He instituted genocide: He caused men, women and children to be raped, burned, maimed, tortured, enslaved, mutilated and murdered. The day dedicated to him should be one of mourning, not celebration.

Bartolome de las Casas was a young Catholic priest initially participating in the ravage let loose upon the Indies. Eventually rebelling against the cruelty he witnessed, he transcribed the admiral's journal and began a multi-volume work titled, "History of the Indies." He relates how the Spaniards "thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades," going on to describe how "two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys." According to la Casas, between 1494 and 1508, over 3 million people died from war, slavery and the mines. As he writes, "Who in future generations will believe this? I myself writing it as a knowledgeable eyewitness can hardly believe it..."

How is it that our people today can celebrate this guy? Is it because Americans like those who facilitate the death of over 7,000 children in three months on Cuba alone, as reported by la Casas? I don't believe so. People continue to participate because the corporations who control the country's media tell them it is okay to do so; the ease of rationalizing wrong is directly related to the number of those participating. Our population has been subjected to the longest and most sophisticated program of brainwashing ever attempted: We are living in a constructed society -- our own Matrix -- a bubble of unreality not shared by the rest of the world. But, as Lincoln may have said, "... You can't fool all the people all the time ..."

Good character is not derived from simply not doing wrong, but rather from actively doing right. Fight back: Pop the bubble. Tear down the construct: Destroy the Matrix. Refuse to spend money that day except in local, non-corporate businesses. Regain your power, help expose a wrong, support your indigenous sisters and brothers, and save the world for our future generations.

Kayanow and peace to all.

Bob Kezer is a junior in the international studies and religious studies programs. end of article dingbat