....LMB: "Happy Columbus Day"....

October 14, 2002

If you're reading this site, there's a good chance that you've read Howard Zinn's book A People's History of the United States. And if you have, this won't be anything new to you.

Zinn went back to the primary documents, Christopher Columbus' personal diaries, and the writings of Bartolome de Las Casas, a priest who lived among Columbus and his men in the New World. And the results aren't pretty for anyone who is a fan of Columbus.

Some relevant passages from an article Zinn wrote on the subject:

In his quest for gold, Columbus, seeing bits of gold among the Indians, concluded there were huge amounts of it. He ordered the natives to find a certain amount of gold within a certain period of time. And if they did not meet their quota, their arms were hacked off. The others were to learn from this and deliver the gold.


But Columbus could not obtain enough gold to send home to impress the King and Queen and his Spanish financiers, so he decided to send back to Spain another kind of loot: slaves. They rounded up about 1200 natives, selected 500, and these were sent, jammed together, on the voyage across the Atlantic. Two hundred died on the way, of cold, of sickness.

And we have a national holiday to commemorate this guy's first day in the New World.

On a similar theme, we have today's column by our pal Geov Parrish. Maybe, at least one day a year, Americans can spend a little time thinking about the country's past and present relations with the Native people living here.

I've got a bigger, broader take on this that I'm writing, I'll try to post it tomorrow.

Posted by Jake at 11:38 PM

So THAT'S why the bank was closed! I was so confused. My world was Columbus-free yesterday, so I was at a loss when I couldn't get in the doors at my bank. I guess without the construction-paper cutouts of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria that i was forced to create in elementary school (oh, but don't get me wrong--we'd take any excuse for a holiday, putting on a play and making puppets out of construction paper and tongue depressors was much more fun than math), I can't recall when it's Columbus Day.

Anyone know today how they "celebrate" Columbus Day in public schools? I'd be curious to find out if the approach has become a bit more evenhanded.

Posted by: michele at October 15, 2002 12:25 PM

Well, since most of the teachers think Columbus landed in North America, they probably celebrate by re-enacting the first Thanksgiving. They don't notice the problem until late november.

Posted by: Jeremy at October 16, 2002 11:41 AM

Holy effing shit. That's true, and it never occurred to me. He landed at San Salvador, which I knew, but never mentally paired with the notion that it was mutually exclusive to linking him with all the images and ideas associated with the Thanksgiving holiday. I distinctly remember, also, paper cutouts of turkeys, but can't remember whether they were truly for Thanksgiving or were glommed into Columbus Day. Matter of fact, from Columbus Day on, the rest of every year in elementary school dissappeared under a thundering avalanche of construction paper, glitter and glue, cotton balls used as snow, and various and sundry refuse from home (paper towel rolls, old milk cartons) sliced and spliced into "Holiday" imagery. Gag. Of course, my parents have cached it all, and it all still lives in boxes in closets, a fire hazard with sentimental value.
Just goes to show you how education isn't just a glossy veneer that smoothes out the edges of unhewn minds: it shapes them, from the inner rock out, like an omnipotent Michelangelo "freeing what is inside the stone"--without the recognition, of course, that it's his own conception of what "should be" inside the stone that shapes his final image. As time goes on, it has become more and more my goal to be the artist of my own thoughts.

Posted by: michele at October 16, 2002 03:50 PM

I thought he landed in Hispaniola (Haiti, Dominican Republic) and, hence, the name. Whatever. The guy really sucked.

Posted by: Jeremy at October 18, 2002 10:01 AM

Go fuck yaselves jealous bitches

Posted by: at September 17, 2003 12:19 AM

What does Thanksgiving have to do with Columbus Day? They occurred more than 100 years apart.

Columbus nor white America had any exclusive membership for slave trading. Slavery was alive and well in the Weteren hemisphere (and all over the world)LONG before Columbus was ever born. It is a horrible part of the history of Mankind.

Posted by: at October 12, 2003 09:21 AM
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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

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