American Elephants


In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety Two, Columbus Sailed… by The Elephant's Child

Exactly how George Floyd’s unfortunate death led to the excesses of Black Lives Matter riots and marches and looting, is not especially clear. How things multiplied from that to attacks on statues all around the country is even less clear. They started with the generals on the losing side of the Civil War, and then included generals on both sides and Spanish Friars, founding fathers and their horses too.. Perfect frenzy of attacking bronze statues that couldn’t possibly fight back, but perhaps that was the point. They could demonstrate their rage while in attacking inanimate objects they had no opposition, and no risk.

But one statue led to another, and when they couldn’t find enough Robert E. Lee statues, they turned to Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and, of course, Columbus.  It is all simply theater. What was intended as a powerful political statement was thoroughly messed up by the historical ignorance of the perpetrators. There was some interest in destruction of the four presidents at Mt. Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota, encouraged slyly by the New York Times, which brought out Sioux Chieftains to remind everyone that the Black Hills were once sacred grounds for Native Americans.

I think the statue thing is probably over, except for Columbus. There are so many things around the country named for Columbus that it remains a tempting victim — Columbus, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska and Texas, the Columbia River, Columbia University, and many ships and lots of wildlife and plants.

What is far more interesting is the “Columbian Exchange” — the plants and animals brought to the new world and from the new world to the old. Search for “The Columbian Exchange” and you will be astounded to find the list of species that were unknown prior to 1492, and how they changed lives. Diseases too. Horses and dogs and cats! Did residents of the new world have no pets until Columbus? And when did they decide that dogs were desirable pets?




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