American Elephants


Poor Old Columbus, To Blame for It All! by The Elephant's Child

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With all the statues being torn down or defaced, the most popular one to be tackled seems to be Columbus. I’m not sure just what it is about poor old Columbus that creates such ire, but he seems to be especially enticing for the statue-destruction bunch. Chicago just had some pretty violent demonstrations in an attempt to pull the poor old fellow down, and Mayor Lightfoot had it taken down with a crane in the middle of the night.

Columbus haters seem to think that his discovery of the Americas was some sort of predecessor to the slave trade, although the Americas weren’t exactly a pristine paradise before his arrival. I looked up pictures of Columbus statues to see what was so offensive, but he is mostly engaged in pointing!. Land Ho! I assume.

Charles Mann’s book 1491 takes on what the Americas were like before the fated arrival. In 1491 there were probably more people living in the Americas than in Europe. Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capitol had more population than any European capitol of the period. That city had running water, beautiful botanical gardens and immaculately clean streets. Europeans arrived in a hemisphere already massively “landscaped” by human beings. And if you want to talk civilizations, you have to start by defining just what is meant by “civilization”.

I have the impression that Columbus statues were being attacked long before George Floyd was killed, but I have never really understood than animus against Columbus. Italian Americans regard Columbus as one of their heroes, and are apt to turn out to try to protect the statues.


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