Saturday, September 23, 2006

Tom's Challenge #1 winners announcement

Well, my first Challenge was kind of funny. I only have a handful of people who visit my blog or know that it exists and one of them got all three questions within minutes of posting them. Cindra knew them but was disqualified for reasons given—I knew she knew the answers before I wrote the questions. But, a challenge is a challenge nonetheless. So here are the results:

First off the answers, copied and pasted from QDs e-mail answer to me (because it was so accurate):

1. Columbus
2. Arawaks
3. They would make fine servants...With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

The Winners:

First place: Quilldancer
Second place: Jackie’s Garden (she got all three but came in second for not turning in her answers)

Good job!

That’s right, our good ole’ buddy Columbus. The man who makes Hitler look like a school boy (he succeeded where Hitler failed. Produce one Arawak Indian for me). A couple of notes on Columbus and his time:

In a discussion about the evils of Columbus, a friend of mine made the comment (paraphrasing here), “But that’s the way thing were back then. They didn’t know any better.” Or something to the effect that what Columbus did was in tune with the times. My rebuttal was that Columbus was not alone on that island. The atrocities perpetuated by Columbus have two major sources in recorded history: 1. Columbus’ own diary (log). and 2. The diary of one Bartolome Las Casas, a young priest who accompanied Columbus. Their views on Spanish cruelty were diametrically opposed. Even though Columbus made many references in his reports to Spain using,“God’s will , etc.” to appease the church, the church’s representative on the ground couldn’t have disagreed more. Here are some examples from Las Casas account:

First a description of the people found (which is corroborated in Columbus' own descriptions):

“They live in large communal, bell-shaped buildings, housing up to 600 people at one time… made of very strong wood and roofed with palm leaves… they prize bird feathers of various colors, beads made with fishbones, and green and white stones with which they adorn their ears and lips, but put no value on gold and precious things. They lack all manner of commerce, neither buying nor selling, and rely exclusively on their natural environment for maintenance. They are extremely generous with their possessions and by the same token covet the possessions of their friends and expect the same degree of liberality…”

Then the contrast of these people and Columbus’ intent for them:

“Endless testimonies… Prove the mild and pacific temperament of the natives…but our work is to exasperate, ravage, kill mangle and destroy. Small wonder, then, if they tried to kill one of now and then…the admiral, it is true, was blind as those who came after him, and he was so anxious to please the King that he committed irreparable crimes against the Indians.”

Then the deterioration of the people in its final throes as the men and women are worked to death in slavery—after 6 to 8 months of working in the gold mines, up to one third of the men died from the non-stop labor:

“Thus husbands and wives were together only once every eight to ten months and when they met they were so exhausted and depressed on both sides….they ceased to procreate. As for the newly born, they died early because their mothers, overworked and famished, had no milk to nurse them. And for this reason while I was in Cuba, 7000 children died in three months. Some mothers even drowned their babies from sheer desperation… in this way husbands died in the mines, wives died at work, and children died from lack of milk… and in a short time this land which was so great, so powerful and fertile… was depopulated… My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write…”

According to available reports, by the year 1515 there were perhaps 50,000 Indians left. By 1550 , there were 500. By 1650 there were no descendants of the Arawak that could be found.

I think ethics in such matters did exist at that time. It is obvious from Las Casas diary that he certainly saw it much the way we do today, as a holocaust. If one person can see it then others could as well and some must have knowingly took part in the raping and pillaging of the land knowing they were committing crimes against humanity.

But enough! This is a very depressing subject (but an important one). Now you know why we should never celebrate Columbus Day (we don’t celebrate Hitler Day). We kept Carrie out of school for a personal day once on Columbus Day (that she needed, anyway, when she first started middle school) and the school called because she wasn’t in attendance. Cindra told them that we pulled her out of school as a protest to there being a Columbus day and that we were going to educate her about Columbus—which we did. There was a long silence on the other end of the phone.

Tomorrow I will post the next Challenge, which will be related, but more positive. Look for Tom’s Challenge tomorrow and spread the word! Thanks for those of you who participated.




At 8:06 PM , Blogger Jackie's Garden said...

Alright, alright...I finally turned it the wrong place at the wrong time! LOL

Seriously, it was an atrocity and the truth of what happened should be known by all.

But, between you and me: Tom, I COULD agree that Columbus SHOULD have seen the ethics if others could, but, I would then have to assume he had the same yardstick (belief system, perceptions, etc.) as Las Casas, wouldn't I? And I don't know that he did. He committed 'crimes against humanity', in our definition, but did he even accept them as 'human'? Many believed that the indians were 'savage', meaning not human, animal like. Of course, bottom line, it's an atrocity even to treat animals like that!

At 8:26 PM , Blogger Charlene Amsden said...

Columbus' own men were so appalled by his greed and creulty that they returned him to Spain in chains, but he was freed to make another trip! Compared to gold, what is the life of a savage or two ... hundred thousand?

At 8:47 PM , Blogger Just Tom said...

Actually, Jackie, you make a good point: example: Bush actually BELIEVES that he is doing the right thing in Iraq.

My comments about ethics were actually not directed at Columbus individually but that those ethics didn't even exist at the time-- reacting to my friend saying something to the effect of, "those were the times." To some maybe. Would this exonerate Dick Cheney from giving his company, Halliburton, no-bid contracts from the government if later we say, "well that was the way things were back then?" It's wrong and he knows it's wrong. He is just committing an ethical crime (conflict of interest) and getting away with it on a technicality (he is on a deferred salary while he is in the whitehouse). I'm not sure what Columbus' thinking was. In some regards for all of his atrocities he may be less evil than Cheney as he may have thought he was doing God's will. Cheney is more like a mafia boss.

At 7:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, now I get who you're talking abut. And I'm old enough that my history books in school still talked about him as a hero. However, a quick search online showed me much more of the true story than I'd known before. Thanks, Tom, for having such an educational contest!

At 11:26 AM , Blogger Just Tom said...

No worries, Brooke, That's what the contest is about... now for the next one...

At 7:31 PM , Blogger Gye Greene said...

Thought this was topical:

(Also comes as a t-shirt, button, etc.)



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