Columbus Day: a day of mourning and remembrance
by Abraham Khoureis, Ph.D., M.A.
Adahy, a Native-American (Apache), a dear acquaintance of mine was very upset and mad at the thought that Christopher Columbus’ Day is still celebrated in the nation. He was particularly furious about how President Trump glorified Columbus in his speech without mentioning the suffering of “our ancestors” and the slaughter they experienced at the hands of Christopher Columbus and his “murderer thugs” (explorers), he expressed.
Truth be told, as always, it was the first time I heard Adahy expresses his feelings about this issue. An awakening of sort has possessed him on the matter of Columbus and his discovery of the already inhabited world. I listened to him, learned, and here I share.
Back into memory lane: During college years, in a history class, the Instructor informed his students that the first words Columbus uttered to the inhabitants of the newly discovered world were: “AlSalam Alikom,” that is right! The Muslim greeting of “Peace Be With You.” Columbus assumed, he landed on the shores of one of the territories of the Islamic Ottoman empire of that time. History taught us that “peace” from Columbus the Natives did not receive. And Columbus was not officially an American at the time.
Columbus was an explorer, an opportunist with hopes and dreams that dashed the hopes, dreams and destiny of other races and people.
In a perfect world, Columbus the Italian born was the Spaniard “admiral of the ocean sea.” A hero to some, the new settlers, including Trump, but to the original inhabitants of the land, the Native-Indians, he was a thief, a robber, a murderer and an opportunist explorer who used all means to achieve success and enrich himself, his crew, and his superiors: King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain at the time.
As luck will have it, Columbus passed away on May 20, 1506 a broken man, heavied by the lack of attention and distance he received from king Ferdinand who scorned him for the crimes Columbus was accused of committing; and for keeping some of the loot “he stole” to himself, among other things.
Love him, or hate him, Christopher Columbus represented a culture of greed, hungry for power at the sufferings of others. His criminal past is repeated today in different forms with different tribes and locals.
Columbus might be a hero to some, including Trump, but definitely, he was and is a murderer to others, especially, to Adahy.
The question that is asked, now that we know about Christopher Columbus what we know, should the U.S. continue honoring this man for the criminal deeds he committed?
The U.S. has a good soul, spirituality guided by the original ancestors of this land. The hope is that, the Day of Columbus will end, will cease, will be cancelled and wiped out of our wounded memory, and be replaced by a Day of Mourning and Remembrance: A Day of Atonement.