Ok, now on to better documented books with actual historically verifiable sources. I haven't read all of Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States," but what I have read has impacted my life more than I ever thought possible. The first page is very powerful:
Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at their strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. He later wrote of this in his log:
They...brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks's bells. They willingly traded everything they owned...They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features...They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made out of cane...They would make fine servants...With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.
Now, this last thought wasn't just an intellectual realization. Like when you realize you are a parent of a trusting child and really could do whatever you wanted but don't because you know that would be wrong on so many levels. Oh no. He acted on those thoughts:
As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Islands which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts. And, as Zinn points out, what he wanted to know was where was the gold. He knew they had gold because he thought he was in Asia where they knew there was gold, and also for the "tiny gold ornaments in their ears." He took the prisoners hoping to force them to tell him where the gold was. Unfortunately for them, most of the gold were little bits in rivers, which gave Columbus the impression that Asia (Cuba) and China (Hispaniola) were overflowing with gold. He fictitiously reported back to Spain:
Hispaniola is a miracle Mountains and hills, plains and pastures, are both fertile and beautiful...the harbors are unbelievable good and there are many wide rivers of which the majority contain gold...There are many spices, and great mines of gold and other metals...
And also reported that the Indians:
Are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone.
He also asked the Queen for a little more help and he would send "as much gold as they needed ....and as many slaves as they ask" for on his next journey home. "Thus" he wrote, "the eternal God, our Lord, gives victory to those who follow His way over apparent impossibilities."
To make a long, horrible story short, half of the 250,000 Arawaks died due to murder, mutilation, or suicide. Hands were cut off when gold was not found to frighten others into finding it (how can they find something that does not exist there?!) and ferocious dogs were used to help keep them in line. By 1515 there were around 50,000 Arawaks, and by 1550 there were 500. By 1650 there were none left. Their lives were so bad that they eventually stopped procreating because the men and women were so "depressed and exhausted. [N]ewborns died because their mothers had no milk...Some mothers even drowned their babies from sheer desperation."
As a mother who dearly loves her children and who would do anything in my power to keep them safe, I can't even imagine the horrible lives these women had to live to lead them to kill their babies to protect them so they didn't have to live in such horrible cruelty.
Now, I know that Columbus lived in a time when slavery was accepted and thought to have God's stamp of approval, but if my God is really a just and loving God, an omnipotent, omniscient, LOVING God, then wouldn't He be a bit more ahead of the times and find someone who did not believe in slavery to "find" His Chosen nation? Do I really believe in a God who would not only allow for this to happen but plan it? Isn't my God supposed to agree with the Articles of Faith His church professes to believe and only only punish each man for his own transgression and not for "Adam's" or for their fathers?
Happy Columbus Day.