October 13, 2014

"The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks) — the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress..."

"... is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders. It is as if they, like Columbus, deserve universal acceptance, as if they — the Founding Fathers, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, the leading members of Congress, the famous Justices of the Supreme Court — represent the nation as a whole. The pretense is that there really is such a thing as 'the United States,' subject to occasional conflicts and quarrels, but fundamentally a community of people with common interests. It is as if there really is a 'national interest' represented in the Constitution, in territorial expansion, in the laws passed by Congress, the decisions of the courts, the development of capitalism, the culture of education and the mass media."

Howard Zinn, "A People's History of the United States," page 9.

Did you notice it's Columbus Day?

142 comments:

Gahrie said...

I often wish we could go back to the wonderful days before the White man came to these shores, where there were no wars and no murder, no slavery, no torture, no human sacrifice. When men and women lived in peace love and toleration among nature's abundance.

Damn the White man who corrupted the American Eden.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Did you notice it's Columbus Day?"

Uh, yeah - except it's not called that anymore.

Happy Anybody-But-That-Murderous-Slaving-Rapey White Man Day!!!!

Yeah!

The Crack Emcee said...

I am planning to celebrate Columbus Day by walking into Gahrie's house and saying I live there now.

He'll make a good slave,...

The Crack Emcee said...

A Colombus Day sale means I can walk in and take whatever I want,...

BarrySanders20 said...

Did you notice it's Columbus Day?

Yes-- but only because the Huge Mattress Sale flyer told me so.

Zinn looks and sees only pretenses and "as if's."

The Godfather said...

There's growing evidence that the ancestors of the "Indians" wiped out an earlier race of settlers in the Americas. And the Indians and/or their predecessors wiped out a lot of the indigenous American fauna. Who's innocent?

Being of European ancestry, I'm glad Columbus discovered a place for my ancestors to move to.

n.n said...

The same thing happened in South Africa, when the Marxists/Mandela murdered, raped, and conquered the native blacks and whites. Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Something similar happened in Kenya following Obama's visit.

Still, in America, the situation was more complicated. There were several dozen nations and tribes engaged in genocide, murder, rape, enslavement, and conquest of each other. The dynamic changed markedly with the revisitation (the original settlers are unaccounted) of Europeans.

EDH said...

Columbus was sent by the evil Hispanics: "white Hispanics".

Rusty said...

What Mr. Zinn often purposefully overlooks is the fact that the natives enthusiastically and with great glee slaughtered each other in great numbers. For the most part the newcomers were viewed as either unwitting allies or less hardy victims.

Alexander said...

Well, that makes sense. I woke up this morning with a burning feeling in that hole in my chest where a person-of-color (aka: a real human-being). At first I thought I had some bad afterburn from all those orphan black babies I ate last night, but now I realize it's just my annual need to manufacture diseases to kill non-white people.

It gives me a headache sometimes. I want to genocide Africans and Natives, of course, but that's not good for the slave-trade if the help are corpses. Ugh, prolems, amirite?!

MagicalPat said...

If some people would take a moment to lift up that Soap Box they're preaching from, they'd find a note that said, "Brought to you by the sacrifices of Christopher Columbus and his Crew"

damikesc said...

Zinn? Really?

AJ Lynch said...

In Mel Gibson's movie Apocylypto, the native Incans [I think they were Incans] were as brutal and as bloodthirsty and as inhuman as ISIS is today.

So don't give me this crap that Columbus and his crew brought death and violence to N. America.

Henry said...

Howard Zinn is the man who invented air quotes.

MadisonMan said...

Yes I did.

I've seen very interesting articles lately on Emerald Ash Borer and/or Chestnut Blight or Dutch Elm Disease that I think is pertinent. Because of the last Ice Age, North America is not a place of genetic diversity compared to, say, east Asia (where a lot of these pests come from). Things are still evolving and getting a toe-hold after the past freeze. Thus, pests from Asia can come here and out-compete local flora/fauna. You don't hear about pests from North America causing problems in Asia because biodiversity and therefore competition is greater over there. Thus, plants and animals are used to competition in Asia and are used to overcoming any kind of alien invasion, unlike North America.

Many -- Most? -- North American Indians died from imported diseases. Not sure if the same thing happened when Europeans went to Asia -- maybe the reverse. My recollection is that all North America gave to Europe is syphillis. Doesn't seem to be an even trade.

tim in vermont said...

"A Colombus Day sale means I can walk in and take whatever I want,.."

Sure, if you have superior weaponry to anybody who thinks you shouldn't, that is true.

MadisonMan said...

A Colombus Day sale means I can walk in and take whatever I want,...

...only if all the salespeople are ill because of the diseases you carry.

tim in vermont said...

Wait til the Indians find out that American Blacks (40 acres and a mule) and Mexico (Granted the land originally by the Pope.) have dibs if any land returns should be forthcoming.

Roger Zimmerman said...

For a different perspective, see this:

http://ari.convio.net/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_columbus

At any reasonable level of historical context, the Western European discovery of America was a huge boon to the native inhabitants. From the piece:

"Whatever the problems it brought, the vilified Western culture also brought enormous, undreamed-of benefits, without which most of today's Indians would be infinitely poorer or not even alive."

That is a fact.

tim in vermont said...

Funny when the butt of so many jokes tries to get into the spirit.

Fernandinande said...

Columbus = winner = bad.
Arawaks = losers = good.

...is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, ...

Having a written language helps.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

REAL HISTORY

The Admiral of the Ocwan Sea, who was a Genoese Jewish Converso, only wanted to get rich trading with open Japan. He discovered some non Japanese natives that were not war like enough to do anything but flee the Caribe Tribe who were the local version of cannibals. He protected them and made them work for him.

The Spaniards who followed after Coliumbus were Conquistadors seeking local gold and silver. They were Roman Empire guys that brought in labor of black slaves from West Africa bought from the Portuguese after most of the the enslaved locals had died from smallpox.

In places too miserable for locals to live in, like the Cartagena, Columbia, a coastal fortress treasure way station that was built in a swampy area the Spanish were working black men to death faster than they could ship them in.

The USA was a settled 100 years later by White Anglo Saxon Protestants. They beat the British Monarchy's landed aristocracy to extending over the mountains into Ohio by fierce war like Scots Irish farmers, who needed no slaves.

Then a few tidewater Aristocrats imported black slavery from their British sugar Islands plantations to cultivate rice and tobacco.

Some of the Scots Irish warrior farmers living in flatland areas got conned into slavery defense after Cotton became a southern cash crop only 30 years before Sherman's Army of the Tennessee eliminated slavery in 1864.

The Sioux Comanche, Apache and Navaho were the white slave capturing preditors over a third of the USA for another 12 years after the blacks were freed.

garage mahal said...

It is odd we celebrate a mass murderer and a navigator who insisted he had found Asia up until his death.

n.n said...

traditionalguy:

The real history is rarely monochromatic. And the degenerate religion captures everyone in its corruption.

traditionalguy said...

We celebrate Columbus to please the Italians and the Hispanics. Catholics need love.

That is safer than celebrating the Puritans William Bradford and Cotton Mather who took scripture seriously.

Bob Ellison said...

Today is also the birthday of the U.S. Navy.

Alex said...

There's growing evidence that the ancestors of the "Indians" wiped out an earlier race of settlers in the Americas. And the Indians and/or their predecessors wiped out a lot of the indigenous American fauna.

That's politically incorrect. We shouldn't consider that.

tim in vermont said...

We brought horrible diseases to North America, and not on purpose.

Europe earlier had suffered the death of a third of its inhabitants, possibly due to a penchant for exploration.

What the aboriginals suffered here was not even just Biblical, it was Steven King novel kind of stuff.

It was going to happen, no matter what. The fate of North American aboriginals was sealed by the genetic composition of the peoples at the time the Bering land bridge closed.

When Cabot first visited "Canada," the name of an Indian city where Montreal now stands, there were tens of thousands of inhabitants. He exchanged a cabin boy for a young Indian, each to learn the other's language. When Cabot returned with the Indian boy now a man, not a speaker of the translator's language remained.

I think it would have been fascinating to learn how they administered such a city without a system of writing.

There were huge numbers of cities along the Mississippi too, which disappeared before the arrival of the first European war party, but after the incidental, and to anybody's knowledge at the time, harmless release of domestic pigs by explorers.

I guess it would be easy to blame Cabot, but only if you willfully ignore many facts and circumstances.

Blame the European who built the first ocean going boat!

But none of this complexity and nuance is going to get us any closer to REPARATIONS!

madAsHell said...

I remember when Columbus Day was October 12.

Todd said...

Anything that starts with "A People's History of..." is already suspect. That is typically new-age, liberal, progressive speak for "slanted crap designed to feed liberal guilt."

Skeptical Voter said...

Tim in Vermont says "we" brought horrible diseases to North America and not on purpose.

Who is "we" Tonto? The Spaniards and the Portuguese brought horrible diseases to the Americas. Well maybe throw in a few Italians as well.

But this disease bit was not a one way street. Syphilis got carried back to Europe--that, along with the potato and tomato was South America's "gift" to their conquerors.

Original Mike said...

"It is as if there really is a 'national interest' ...".

There is. Your way leads to chaos.

Michael said...

But if the history of the Caribbean was told from the point of view of the Arawaks it would be a short and dull history inasmuch as they had no written language.

Meanwhile in Europe Guttenberg had developed the moveable type press, DaVinci had designed a parachute, whiskey was invented in Scotland and the trigger and oil paints created.

The Arawaks would not have lasted long once found, as indeed they would have been, by the Caribes who were both warlike and cannibals. It was only a matter of time.

Big Mike said...

The pretense is that there really is such a thing as 'the United States,' subject to occasional conflicts and quarrels, but fundamentally a community of people with common interests.

Ain't no pretense about it, child.

pm317 said...


of course, I did. Feds have the day off.

EMD said...

A Colombus Day sale means I can walk in and take whatever I want,...

Go for it. Maybe we'll take up a collection to post bail.

Rick Caird said...

Howard Zinn is exactly the reason we can no longer trust history. It used to be that history was written by the winners. Now, however, history is written by the people who wish it were different than it was and they make it so.

buwaya said...

Here in San Francisco, Sunday, we had a Columbus Day parade, a mile long or so, with Italian everything and everyone, from fishmongers to the Knights of Columbus (hah!).
On top of that, simultaneously, Fleet Week with its airshows, with the Blue Angels back this year.
It was a good day to tell the ghost of Howard Zinn to stuff it.

Birkel said...

The bank was closed today so I recognized that I could not deposit the many checks I have earned. There was a sign informing me why I could not do so.

Meanwhile, Columbus should rightly be celebrated. He did something important. As a Native, I couldn't give one wet shit less what negative things Howard Zinn managed to vomit from his gaping maw. Howard Zinn accomplished nothing worthwhile except to repackage failed Leftist drivel to be repeated endlessly by idiots.

Rusty said...

Tim in Vermont.
In all likelyhood it was around ten thousand and that would be seasonal. Different bands spreading out to their preferrred winter hunting grounds.
When Cartier sailed up the StLawrence he found a "great village of around ten thousand people." The people being the Huron.
It would still make it the largest Indian gathering north of Mexico. The Cahokia having vanished nearly a century before.

buwaya said...

The anti-Columbus zealots overlook the common people for the most part, being concerned with only the subset of the common people that matter to them for their political purposes.
Out of the 1 billion current residents of the Americas, one could say that 95% owe their existence, and to the degree they have it, their prosperity, to Cristobal Colon.

Viva el audaz navegante
Que viva la patria mia
Vivan las tres carabelas
La Pinta, la Nina, y la Santa Maria

My Tito Fernando would always play this - Mexican arrangement of a Cuban folksong.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xoi2V2XtXuA

Its popular all over Latin America; in Spain they used to sing it in school. This is Gilberto Gil (Brazilian) singing (partly) in Portuguese.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7ZQK1c1Dzg

Michael K said...

"My recollection is that all North America gave to Europe is syphillis. Doesn't seem to be an even trade."

No, the Indians gave as good or better than they got. Syphilis in the 15th century was horrendous. It has evolved, as Ebola may eventually, and is a mild disease treatable by penicillin but in the early years its manifestations were very severe.

Smallpox a]was probably brought by African slaves, not of course by their own volition. Malaria too, most likely.

Measles wiped out a lot of Polynesians in the 19th century. Contact with isolated populations is dangerous, the theme of Michael Crichton's first novel. Every year, the isolated population of northern Alaska which has had no common colds all winter, gets sick after the first boat arrives.

Airplanes speed up this process.

285exp said...

"A Colombus Day sale means I can walk in and take whatever I want,..."

No, that's the Ferguson Day Sale.

Freder Frederson said...

In Mel Gibson's movie Apocylypto, the native Incans [I think they were Incans] were as brutal and as bloodthirsty and as inhuman as ISIS is today

Which is why you shouldn't rely on Mel Gibson to teach you history. The brutal regime depicted in Apocalypto was the Mayans, not the Inca. And he didn't even get that part right. The Mayan Empire collapsed several hundred years before Columbus came to the new world.

And there is absolutely no evidence that Native Americans, either pre or post Columbus, were any more brutal than the Europeans of the time. Remember, in the early seventeenth century, Central Europe was plunged into a bloody sectarian war that killed a third of the population.

Whatever the problems it brought, the vilified Western culture also brought enormous, undreamed-of benefits, without which most of today's Indians would be infinitely poorer or not even alive.

Considering that the European colonization wiped out 90+% of the Native population, this statement is pretty ridiculous.

Unknown said...

1. The President, Congress and Courts were written into the Constitution because they do, in fact and by definition, represent the nation as a whole.

2. The United States was formed on the basis of common interests that diverged strongly enough from the interests of England to require separation.

3. It is extremely collective and communistic and rank stupidity to think every interest has to be "common" and uniform.

4. The common point for U.S. history are the things Zinn reviles.

buwaya said...

Mayans existed, they had towns and armies and human sacrifice at the time of Columbus and Cortez.
Cortez, Alvarado and co. had to conquer them too, in long and difficult campaigns. It was not just a matter of defeating the Aztecs. The wars went on for many years.

Read the memoirs of Bernal Diaz. It is full of details of the entire conquest, including the years of marching from town to town to town. If you can read it in Spanish, its worth the trouble. Bernal Diaz was an interesting and talented folk stylist. This is history well and honestly told by a Spanish redneck.

Michael K said...

"wiped out 90+% of the Native population, this statement is pretty ridiculous."

Freder was there and remembers it well.

Dope.

James Pawlak said...

I hope to reinstate the Aztec religion. Ripping the hearts out of mean and skinning, alive, young girls really energizes my sense of history.

GEN. WILLIAM T. SHERMAN: "Yes, I saw some good Indians, and they were all dead".

furious_a said...

Did you notice it's Columbus Day?

No giant, papier mache' puppets parading about proclaiming "500 YEARS OF RESISTANCE!!!", so no.

Scott M said...

I wasn't celebrating Columbus Day as much as I was celebrating Europeans- Introduce-Horses-To-North America-Giving-Rise-To-The-Great-Plains-Horse-Cultures-That-Wouldn't-Have-Existed-Without-Them Day.

Robert Cook said...

"Zinn looks and sees only pretenses and 'as if's.'"

Because that is what really makes up much, if not most, of what we think of as immutable historical truth.

furious_a said...

Which is why you shouldn't rely on Mel Gibson to teach you history.

Which is why you shouldn't fall for the trope that Apocalypto was intended as a documentary.

Remedial history reading for you, Freder: The Blood of Kings.

Bloody bunch, those Mayans. Whizzes at math, though.

Darleen said...

Columbus Day ...

Now if the Islamist hordes hadn't been slaughtering and conquering great swaths of Europe, Christopher wouldn't have been looking for an alternative trade route to China and the Indies.

The day is less about the man and more about the event.

History was just a label Zinn slapped on his homey-fear.

Revenant said...

Relying on Zinn to criticize Columbus is like relying on 9/11 Truthers to criticize the war on terrorism.

There are plenty of legitimate criticisms, offered by honest and rational critics. Why not pick one?

furious_a said...

Something to think about the next time one sits down to a big, hot steaming bowl of Pozole:

According to research by the National Institute of Anthropology and History and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, on these special occasions, the meat used in the pozole was human.[5] After the prisoners were killed by having their hearts torn out in a ritual sacrifice, the rest of the body was chopped and cooked with maize. The meal was shared among the whole community as an act of religious communion. After the Conquest, when cannibalism was banned, pork became the staple meat as it "tasted very similar", according to a Spanish priest.[5]

tim in vermont said...

What is kind of cool about Crack is that we no longer need to parody him. He does it for us himself.

furious_a said...

Mmmm...human sacrifice, the Other White Meat.

Mary Beth said...

The bank was closed today so I recognized that I could not deposit the many checks I have earned.

Unless the checks are for several thousand dollars, you can probably deposit them via an app on a smartphone.

Robert Cook said...

"So don't give me this crap that Columbus and his crew brought death and violence to N. America."

But, they did. That doesn't mean the people here at the time weren't also violent. Wherever there are humans there will be conflict and greed and violence, struggles for power and domination, conflicts of world-view and ideologies.

Stating the plain facts of our own violence does not imply (or confer) automatic sainthood on the victims of our violence; it is simply to state plainly the fact of our own violence, without the prettifying fables of "good versus evil, of "the civilized against the savages."

We (or our forbears) are not worse than other peoples, but we are not better, either. This is the salient point.

Revenant said...

But, they did. That doesn't mean the people here at the time weren't also violent.

Um, yes, that IS what the expression "brought violence to" means -- that the place in question WASN'T already violent. E.g., you don't say that the United States "brought violence to Europe in 1917".

Slavery, genocide, rape, murder, political and religious oppression -- all of these things were not only present, but common in the Americas. The relevant difference wasn't "bad Europeans vs. good natives"; it was "powerful bad people vs weaker bad people".

Curious George said...

"The Crack Emcee said...
A Colombus Day sale means I can walk in and take whatever I want,.."

Not in Ferguson, MO. Your African American bothers already took everything. I guess every day is Columbus Day there, eh?

Robert Cook said...

"'Whatever the problems it brought, the vilified Western culture also brought enormous, undreamed-of benefits, without which most of today's Indians would be infinitely poorer or not even alive.'

"That is a fact."


Well, it's not a fact, its an assertion of opinion based on speculation. There's no way to know how history up to this day would have played out if westerners had not come to thesse shores when they did.

buwaya said...

Gibson is not very wrong at all.
Spanish expeditions did indeed land on the Yucatan coast just as he showed.
They were met by civilized, warlike people (the Mayas) living in towns and cities. They weren't quite as "civilized" as their ance

They got the better of the Spanish in several fights and took several prisoners.

One reason the Cortez expedition was chartered was as a punitive expedition against these people. Cortez managed to liberate a couple of the Spanish prisoners.

Scott M said...

Not in Ferguson, MO. Your African American bothers already took everything. I guess every day is Columbus Day there, eh?

Not really. It was more of a fire sale.

virgil xenophon said...

"I don't go so far as to think 'that the only good Indians are dead Indians,' but I believe that nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely about the health of the tenth."

---------T. R.

Rusty said...

Michael K said...
"wiped out 90+% of the Native population, this statement is pretty ridiculous."


When Cortez conquered Mexico city, the the largest city in the western hemisphere,had approximately 250,000 people living there. A year after the conquest there was barely 20,000. Disease having carried them off.

furious_a said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

"Um, yes, that IS what the expression 'brought violence to' means -- that the place in question WASN'T already violent. E.g., you don't say that the United States 'brought violence to Europe in 1917.'"

It can have that meaning, but that is not the only meaning it can have. (BTW, if we're going to be pedantic, the period goes inside the quote marks--as I have corrected it here--not outside.)

The indigenous peoples warred among themselves, but the Europeans brought an invading culture and force that swept all before it. It is certainly correct to say the Europeans brought violence to these shores...an external, technologically superior and devastating violence.

America joined in an already ongoing cataclysmic war between nations, so we did not bring violence to Europe; we went to join in the war, not to settle the land, taking it for ourselves from those already there. This is the distinction in your example.

Rusty said...

"bad Europeans vs. good natives"; it was "powerful bad people vs weaker bad people".

More like a warlike stone age people vs a semi-warlike preindustrial people. There were simply more europeans.

This better illustrates the point.


When Cartier sailed his ships to the cataracts of the Niagara, the first white man to travel that far. He found a great Huron village of perhaps 10,000 souls. Cartier ordered every flag on his ships raised. He ordered every marine in formation to fire off their muskets and every cannon to fire a report.
In due time the great satchem of the Huron invited Cartier and his officers to feast in his lodge.
Do you know the first thing the satchem of the Huron asked Cartier?
The great satchem of the Huron wanted to know if Cartier would loan him some of his cannon and marines so he could make war on his enemy, the Iroqois

Brando said...

Through history, and certainly in those days, the story of humankind has been one of control and subjugation of the weak by the strong. The weak are not virtuous, just unfortunate--the native tribes were every bit as brutal as the Europeans who conquered them. The actions of the latter were brutal and deserve condemnation, but to assume the conquered tribes were some idyllic noble savages is pure racist crap coming from an unoriginal tool like Zinn. It just favors his reflexive hatred of western civilization (even while he and his idiot fans benefit from that civilization) and patronizing whitewashing of the atrocities stronger natives visited on their weaker neighbors.

History shouldn't gloss over the ugly things done by the conquerors, but let's also not pretty up what life was like before Columbus arrived.

MayBee said...

What's really unbelievable is how white men treated each other so well when they were all in Europe, but as soon as they got to America and met the Indians, they got violent.

Michael K said...

"We (or our forbears) are not worse than other peoples, but we are not better, either. This is the salient point."

Why is it necessary to the leftist mind that we must be no better than the savages of history ? I really think the theory of Progressive Calvinism is true. Joseph Bottum's book spells it out.

Looking at the college-educated elite he calls "The Poster Children," Bottum sees the post-Protestant heirs of the old Mainline Protestant domination of culture: dutiful descendants who claim the high social position of their Christian ancestors even while they reject their ancestors' Christianity.

It is very important to the left of today to feel superior to those benighted ancestors who violated the poor Indians.

John Lynch said...

Blaming people in the present for things that happened centuries ago, for the purpose of pursuing a political agenda, is dishonest.

It's just as dishonest as saying that things in the past didn't happen at all.

furious_a said...

The Aztecs were a nasty bunch:

For example, the old question of whether the Aztecs' political structure was or was not an "empire" can be reexamined. One part of this problem is that the Aztecs frequently withdrew from conquered territory without establishing administrative centers or garrisons. This "failure" to consolidate conquest in the Old World fashion puzzled Cortés, who asked Moctezuma to explain why he allowed the surrounded Tlaxcalans to maintain their independence. Moctezuma reportedly replied that his people could thus obtain captives for sacrifice. Since the Aztecs did not normally eat people of their own policy, which would have been socially and politically disruptive, they needed nearby "enemy" populations on whom they could prey for captives. This behavior makes sense in terms of Aztec cannibalism: from the Aztec point of view, the Tlaxcalan state was preserved as a stockyard. The Aztecs were unique among the world's states in having a cannibal empire.

Which would explain how Cortes returned to Tenochtitlan with approx. 50,000 Tlaxcalan and Totonacan warriors backing up his 1,000-odd conquistadores.

Paul said...

"The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks) — the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress..."

Oh BULLSHITE!

The Indians in North America (600 or more tribes) murdered each other, enslaved each other, tortured each other, and actually practised genocide.

They were stone age. Yes some tribes were peaceful (as some European countries were, but many were very warlike and thought nothing of enslaving people of the other tribes.

So this jerk, Howard Zinn, is clueless.

EMD said...

It's a shame the Arawaks didn't get in their carracks and head across the Atlantic to teach Europe a lesson.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Columbus was from Genoa.

It was, so they say, the Genoese who 150 years earlier brought Yersinia pestis (1347, the Black Death) from Asia to Europe.

buwaya said...

The specifics of the modes of war that the Europeans brought does not support the idea of devastating violence.
The details of how the Spanish and other colonists fought shows that they had only a very marginal technical superiority over the natives. In Cortez' army they certainly did not fool themselves about this. Cortez had only two useful technical advantages over the natives - steel swords and cavalry. Steel swords were largely a defensive weapon. And they had very very few cavalrymen. The Spanish certainly did not win my slaughtering the natives in masses. They were rarely in a position to even pursue a fleeing enemy, the only way to cause decisive casualties. Rather, they won by resisting the native attack, and persisting until the natives gave up. The effect on native morale, the willingness of their elites to make deals, was a result of this moral advantage. It was in truth a moral superiority, not a technical one, and the conquistadors understood the situation very well.
The real decisive advantage the Spanish had was that Cortez, a lawyer, used his considerable diplomatic skills to organize a superior coalition against the Aztecs. And in his later campaigns the bulk of his armies were also made up of natives, with only a hard core of Spaniards as backup. The Mexicans in reality conquered each other.
The military experience of the French and the British in the Americas shows them often at a severe military disadvantage against the natives. The balance of casualties in fights against the natives was usually substantially against the Europeans. The Indian warrior was a very dangerous opponent on his native terrain and was justifiably terrifying to the colonists. Military technology wasn't much of an equalizer. The colonists advantages were largely economic and demographic, not military.

SteveR said...

History with an agenda makes people stupid.

buwaya said...

At the the siege of Tenochtitlan Cortez led an army or under 1000 Spaniards and over 100,000 natives.

Bob Ellison said...

"I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." - George Bernard Shaw quotes from BrainyQuote.com.

Trashhauler said...

Zinn was a dick.

Bob Ellison said...

Of course, pigs were also a European import. So maybe we're just wrestling with ourselves.

David said...

Zinn isn't incorrect. But he's just as one dimensional as the approach he detests so much.

Violence and oppression are the common threads of all peoples. Governments and leaders sometimes accelerate this. (My current read includes the very efficient Mongol genocide of the Muslims.) But others try to move us away from our worst natures. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are widely admired because of their leadership away from killing and oppression. Both paid with their lives for this. But under the likes of the Mongols they never would have emerged from obscurity in the first place. They would have been killed immediately.

Columbus was a hugely important historical figure. But even S.E. Morrison referred to the exchange with the Arawak as a genocide. It was. There is little comfort in arguing that a large percentage of the natives died of disease. This may be true, but it is largely irrelevant, as the disease simply made the overall task of extermination easier. Once the Arawak and Tiano proved inadequate as slaves, their fate was sealed.

The roots of the European settlement of America were just as brutal as the other major conquests in the history of the world. It is good to remember that. But let's judge the current society for its own sins.

America's best ideas remain a target not a consistent achievement. I think that may be a inalterable human characteristic.

The Crack Emcee said...

Paul,

"This jerk, Howard Zinn, is clueless."

As is anyone who challenges the lies of white supremacy.

Blacks were happy as slaves, right?

Talk about clueless,...

The Crack Emcee said...

"The pretense is that there really is such a thing as 'the United States,'"

I've said this all along:

Whites haven't created a country, they created a gulag for anyone who isn't down with them and the lies they tell.

And, finally, only they can't see it,...

buwaya said...

Cortez eventually had more than Tlascalans and Totonacs. He had large numbers of Mexica (aka Aztecs) also, essentially all the peoples of the lake country other than those of Tenochtitlan.
Thats how he isolated the city.
Cortez managed one of history's greatest achievements in statesmanship, up there with Robert Clive and Bismarck.

Ann Althouse said...

"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 the 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’ 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 it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane. . . . They would make fine servants. . . . With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

"These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable (European observers were to say again and again) for their hospitality, their belief in sharing. These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus.

"Columbus wrote:

"As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island 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.'"

Zinn, Howard (2010-01-14). A People's History of the United States (pp. 1-2). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

William said...

A well born Spaniard gave deference only to a higher born Spaniard. Columbus was Genoese and Magellan was Portugese. They had to overcome considerable prejudice and on several occasions outright mutinies to maintain command of their vessels. You cold say that they persevered and triumphed over Spanish prejudice........Cortes fought at the Battle of Lepanto. In the eastern Meditaranean, the Spaniards enjoyed no advantages in guns, germs, and steel in their struggles against the Turks. The Turks were not notable for their gentle treatment of subjugated peoples. A Spanish commander at the siege of Rhodes surrendered his forces under guarantee of a passage of safe conduct. The Turkish commander felt that the Spaniard surrendered in too arrogant a manner. He had the Spaniard skinned alive, and the body was mounted as a trophy of wars in his chambers........The Spaniards were brutish and cruel during this era. Who wasn't?

The Crack Emcee said...

"They would make fine servants. . . . With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."

No wonder he's these white's hero,...

The Crack Emcee said...

"The Spaniards were brutish and cruel during this era. Who wasn't?"

""These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable (European observers were to say again and again) for their hospitality, their belief in sharing."

See how fucked up your so-called "educations" are?

Whites live in a dastardly dream world, occupied by the lies of their ancestors, and dumped on the rest of us.

Thank God we didn't buy it,...

Anonymous said...

The Anasazi disappeared by 1300 because they were defeated and then eaten by their conquerors.

The Eries by were wiped out other 'aborigines' before the Europeans even saw the lake.

Several Apache tribes used to live in Texas until they were they were liquidated by the Comanche.

The Kennewick man's remains had a spear point lodged in his ilium around 7300 BC.

Tell me more about this peaceful Eden that Columbus disturbed.

tim in vermont said...

The problem with "white people's" education is that they don't lead to the conclusion that reparations are owed to black people.

I am going to make some dinner, but I better not because, well, what would that do to advance the cause of REPARATIONS?

Anonymous said...

William:

A Spanish commander at the siege of Rhodes surrendered his forces under guarantee of a passage of safe conduct. The Turkish commander felt that the Spaniard surrendered in too arrogant a manner. He had the Spaniard skinned alive, and the body was mounted as a trophy of wars in his chambers........"


It was Cyprus and the commander was a Venetian.

Basil said...

The Indians wanted to make allies of the new white people to defeat their Indian enemies.

Diplomatic mistake of the first order, but similar to the mistakes made by conquered peoples throughout history.

The Indians who allied with the French were defeated in war and lost much, but that loss was no different that loosing parties in war from the beginning of time.

Exit question, are the Amazon tribes who live in ignorance of the modern world better off than those tribes who live today in America?

Kirk Parker said...

Althouse,

You're slipping.

How can you possibly have a Zinn tag not accompanied by a lameness tag?

John Lynch said...

Some neglected things about the history of the Americas after 1491.

1. There was nothing inevitable about Columbus or Cortez. Both men were truly exceptional people, and accomplished things that would never be believed except that they happened. No fictional story about Cortez would be credible. Any attempt to downplay the enormous odds both men confronted misses the truth that both men were incredibly brave and resourceful. Both really should have died in the attempt, and many that came after them did. Magellan didn't finish his trip. European contact happened when it did due to the amazing character (more or less evil, depending on what you thing of Columbus, and outright evil in Cortez).

2. Whatever cultures and societies that existed in the Americas in 1491 were wiped out shortly thereafter. Disease killed so many people that European conquest was an afterthought. The disease holocaust (which was unintended by the Europeans) did the damage. The Indians that the white settlers from England and the USA encountered were the survivors of the apocalyptic event that had happened centuries before. They were, in a very real way, cut off from what came before. Equating the Indian tribes of the 18th and 19th centuries, who survive to the present, with those of the 15th centuries is a mistake.

The European conquest of the Americas is a tragic event. It wasn't planned to turn out as it did, but was the result of a natural experiment that separated one branch of humanity from the rest for 100 centuries. It was inevitable that they would eventually meet again, and disease meant that that reunion would be awful no matter what the intentions were.

sinz52 said...

The late talk-show host, David Brudnoy, was fond of pointing this fact out:

Look at a political map of the world.

Then exclude natural boundaries like oceans and the Korea Strait and so on.

98% of the other national boundaries were originally set by conquest and war. Just pick one and study its history. That is true in Africa, Asia, Europe, etc.

The single-minded fixation that the hard-core Left has with criticizing and denouncing America for everything under the sun is just a massive double standard.

They're just furious with how the Cold War turned out. It just stuck in their craw, that's all.

sinz52 said...

And Zinn's is straight Marxism: Nations don't matter; what matters is global finance capitalism vs. the global proletariat.

I wonder how many of today's teachers, who use that so-called "textbook," know that what they're teaching is a subliminal advertisement for a philosophy that resulted in the deaths of 50 million people.

n.n said...

furious_a:

The Aztecs also practiced a faith-based form of human sacrifice. Much like our society does today, but in far smaller numbers.

n.n said...

Zinn likes to extrapolate from circumstantial evidence to form general conclusions a la the degenerate religion with tenets of inherited and collective sin. This has been a Marxist strategy to subjugate people when they lack the means to commit mass murder and enslavement of the target population. Today, they do both. Exploit, pervert, corrupt, and reorient a society to defeat itself; and commit or sponsor mass murder of a society's most vulnerable members: babies.

n.n said...

sinz52:

The Marxists are the "1%" in every society they subjugate, and their religion is imposed through coercion, much like other religions which spread by the sword.

sinz52 said...

"other religions which spread by the sword."

In English grammar, the following two statements mean quite different things:

"other religions, which spread by the sword"

"other religions that spread by the sword"

Douglas said...

Happy Columbus Day to everyone. We all should get down on our hands and knees and thank Columbus for what he did - that is, if you think that the USA is a better place to live than the old Aztec or Incan empires.

Alex said...

Can one explain to me the infatuation college girls have with Marxism?

Joe said...

Columbus was kind of a turd, but a persistent turd. I'd prefer they rename it Explorers Day, but then all the dagos would get upset.

Douglas said...

sin52- You may be understating the number of victims of Marxism by quite a bit. China alone accounts for perhaps as many as 90 million murdered in the name of equality, if you add up all the victims of the Revolution, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Throw in another 2-1/2 million from Cambodia, millions more from the Soviet Union, and add in those murdered by the communists in Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and Laos. Communism is the hands down winner in the historical contest of Who Killed the Most Innocent People?

buwaya said...

In the old days (well, my college days, which I suppose were the old days by definition) the Marxists were the rebels, both the macho posers and the saintly fanatics. Both types attract women. They followed them into the ideology because of their glamor.

Am I sexist ? I suppose I am, but facts are facts.

A few girls were genuine disciplined self-sacrificing communists, no men involved. I figure they were the same sorts that would have joined a Catholic religious order, it was just that they had found another religion.

Michael K said...

"The Indians who allied with the French were defeated in war and lost much, but that loss was no different that loosing parties in war from the beginning of time. "

This was tragic in another way because the Indians made a bad decision. Dartmouth college was founded in 1769 to educate the children of settlers and Indians. The Iroquois were far more advanced then the plains Indians the settlers encountered in the west. They lived in houses and, after some experience with the European settlers, adopted glass in windows and grist mills. They were very well prepared to adapt to a European society. Similarly, the Cherokee were advanced but a renegade Scotsman stirred up enmity based on his hatred of the British.

What might have been is a possibility that leftist historians like Zinn completely ignore.

The French convinced the Iroquois that they could drive the British out of North America. The Scot convinced the Cherokee that cooperation with settlers was wrong.

There was no chance that settlers in the west would cooperate with the primitive plains Indians.

buwaya said...

The settler-indian situation was not likely to lead to coexistence I think.
The American (or that of the Bitish colonies and their successors) frontier was extremely bloody for 250+ years. This was not just a matter of declared wars. This was pure Tutsi-Hutu and more so because it was relentless.

rcocean said...

"Whites haven't created a country, they created a gulag for anyone who isn't down with them and the lies they tell."

We whites need to buy Crack a one-way ticket back to his homeland - West Africa -and FREEDOM. Think about it Crack: No more racism, no more Gulags for the black man, just plain old freedom. (With a little disease Ebola on the side, but what the hey). Come on everybody! Lets make Crack happy! Crack back to Africa 2014!

Lets Do it! This time our side will win!

Eric said...

Anything that starts with "A People's History of..." is already suspect. That is typically new-age, liberal, progressive speak for "slanted crap designed to feed liberal guilt."

About ten years ago I was dating a woman from Korea. She wanted to learn more about US history, so she picked up Zinn's book from its prominent display at Barnes & Noble.

After reading about half of it she put it down and said "There's not much actual history in this book. And the author seems to hate his country."

The Crack Emcee said...

After Ghana in West Africa, there was another civilization called Mali. Mali is one of the most famous because it was made famous by a Black sultan named Mansa Musa. Mansa Musa was famed for a journey he took from Mali to Mecca. In the same area—all of these three empires were in West Africa—after the Mali, I think, it was the Songhai empire. The Songhai empire covered, I think, even more territory than the Mali empire. And in those days there was the fabulous, fabled city of Timbuktu. Timbuktu was a center of learning where they had colleges and universities; and this Timbuktu existed as a hidden city, or forbidden city, to the white man for many centuries. He was not permitted to go there, none of them had been there—it was for us. They had universities there in which scholars traveled from China, Japan, the Orient, from Asia, from Africa, all the parts of Africa, to come there and learn. This was in Africa, and this existed before the discovery of America. These people who taught at this university, or these universities, had a knowledge of geography. They knew that the earth was round. It wasn’t Columbus that discovered that it was round for people in Europe; they discovered it when they began to be exposed to the science and learning that existed in the universities on the African continent. But the white man is such a liar, he doesn’t want it to be known that the Black man was so far ahead of him in science. Now, this isn’t racist talk, when I say he’s a liar. I’m not talking about all of them, I’m talking about those who are responsible for this false concept of the African image, and that is most of them. If I said all of them, they’d call me a racist. I can’t say all of them, but most of them, those in power, that told lies deliberately and scientifically to distort the image of Africa in order to mold a better picture and image of Europe—you can see the crime that they committed once you begin to delve into the African continent today and find its real position in science and civilization in times gone by.

-- Malcolm X

rcocean said...

Hello? Columbus wasn't trying to rape and enslave anyone. He was trying to find a new trade route to the East Indies and bumped into the New World instead. If he (or someone else) hadn't made the trip, I, and every other European wouldn't be here. BTW, if you're white and you feel guilty, you can always give the deed to your house to the nearest Indian and go back where you came from.

As for Comrade Zinn. Are Commies like him so smart, or is everyone else so stupid?

rcocean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

Malcolm x was so wrong about so many things. From about the fifth century it was known that the world was round. The Greeks had thought so maybe a century before that. Greece is in Europe.

Malcolm wanted to believe the old theory that all knowledge was stolen from Africa by the Greeks but was too smart to follow that thinking through. He knew that when you steal an idea it does not leave the mind of the victim.

Revenant said...

The indigenous peoples warred among themselves, but the Europeans brought an invading culture and force that swept all before it.

Except, of course, that what you describe as "indigenous peoples [warring] among themselves" consisted of various invading cultures forcefully sweeping their enemies aside. By the time the Europeans arrived, there wasn't a square inch of the Americas that was still owned by the culture that had originally claimed it.

The Europeans forcibly took land from people who had, or whose ancestors had, forcibly taken it from others. That's one of the main reasons the Spanish had such a relatively easy time colonizing Central and South America -- all they did was replace the existing rapacious ruling classes (Aztecs, Incas, etc.) with themselves. Life for the average native peasant didn't change much.

Hagar said...

That would be about the 5th century B.C., Michael.

averagejoe said...

"It's is as if there really is a 'national interest' represented in the Constitution, in territorial expansion, in the laws passed by Congress, the decisions of the courts, the development of capitalism, the culture of education and the mass media."

Of course there is a national interest in these things. And that's exactly why people like Zinn and Obama and progressives, being defiant and ungrateful and spiteful and rebellious and anti-American, oppose them and constantly seek to undermine them.

Revenant said...

Bonus irony points: the Songhai Empire Malcolm X was (inaccurately) praising made extensive use of European slaves. :)

Paul said...

"As is anyone who challenges the lies of white supremacy."

Crack,

It ain't nothing to do with anyone 'supremacy'. As I pointed out the Europeans were murderous to.

It's only when a hack says the natives were like Disneyland natives and the Europeans were monstrous ogres that I have to point out what bull it is.

And Crack, blacks in Africa SOLD their OWN PEOPLE into slavery (and still do.) Many blacks think other blacks are not 'black' enough (literally in some cases.)

Talk about black supremacy.

chickelit said...

All this Columbus bashing is just romancing the stone age.

tim in vermont said...

but the Europeans brought an invading culture and force that swept all before it.

Well, when the Romans swept the Celt culture out of Europe, leaving only small vestiges in out of reach places like Scotland and Ireland, it didn't count because they were all white.

History not viewed exclusively through the lens of race is ahistorical.

Gahrie said...

I am planning to celebrate Columbus Day by walking into Gahrie's house and saying I live there now.

He'll make a good slave,...


Better not come unarmed, and you should probably bring some friends with you....

buwaya puti said...

A Spanish slave (a eunuch no less) led the Arab army that captured Timbuktu and destroyed the Songhai empire.
Can't escape the white man, or a conquistador.

William said...

@Lars--thanks for your correction. I do, however, stand by my point that the Spaniards lived in a brutish, nasty world and were, in some regards, a tad better than their opponents. You can fairly argue that the Spaniards were cruel, greedy, and proud, but you cannot vouchsafe the fact that they were very brave and knew how to win battles.......The Arawaks were perhaps peaceful and gentle or, perhaps, Columbus misread them. In any event, the Caribs, who had mastered the technology of the bow and arrow, were hunting them for their protein value. There was a ruling in the Spanish court that among the Indians only the cannibals could be enslaved. After that ruling, the Spaniards in the new world encountered nothing but cannibals.......The world, old and new, has produced many Cortes. But consider Las Casas, the Dominican priest, who made an honest, if ineffectual, effort to save the Indians from the predations of the Spanish. He was what was unique about the Spanish conquest......The left criticizes the Europeans for violating morals that did not exist until they created them.

CWJ said...

Regarding Zinn as quoted by Althouse,

1) It happened. It's History. Other than carping about it, what's his alternative and why is his carping more significant than what actually happened.

2) His list of presidents begins with Jackson(!), ends with Kennedy(!), includes exactly one Republican, includes Wilson(!!!!) but not Teddy Roosevelt?????? WTF?

3) Bite me!

CWJ said...

Tim in VT,

Don't forget Wales and Brittany. Still point well made. Likewise, who remembers the inhabitants of the Hungarian plain prior to the Magyars.

rcocean said...

Is it too late to remind everyone that the Irish suffered a great, great, deal?

Especially, the Kennedy's.

Babaluigi said...

I know someone who was named after Christopher Columbus precisely because he was a brave man, who was persistent, and took the chances he did because he so firmly believed in himself, and what he believed to be true. I always think of Columbus in this way, especially on Columbus Day, and believe he was one of the greats who changed the world.

The one question I have always wanted to ask those who weep and gnash their teeth at at the mere mention of Columbus' name (and I have never had the opportunity to ask this in person -lucky for them)...So, if Columbus and the Spaniards had not "discovered" the western continents, do you believe it never would have happened? What, in the history of humankind, makes you think that whatever group of "strangers" to hit those shores, the basic end results would have been any different?

Ignore human behavior at your peril...

Gary Rosen said...

Garbage:

"It is odd we celebrate a mass murderer and a navigator who insisted he had found Asia up until his death."

Almost as odd as electing someone POTUS who hadn't led or accomplished jack shit as an adult before he took office.

cubanbob said...

Overlooked is the reason the Spanish went looking for China and India and then when discovering America employed slavery: gold and silver. And what for? To buy the goods that Europe didn't make at the time from China and India. And why gold and silver? Simply because Europe had nothing at the time to trade Asian goods for other than gold and silver. SO the the Spanish looking to get to India and China by sea to cut out the Arab middlemen landed in the Americas and promptly figured out there was gold to be had to buy the goods from Asia they were seeking. Later they went on to make the Americas a profit center for themselves.

Interestingly enough the Chinese also prepared a fleet for exploration in 1492. A much larger and better equipped and manned fleet that was ready to sail when the emperor changed his mind and scuttled the mission. Had things gone different the Chinese may well have landed in the Americas and become the Conquistadors and from there in due time become African slave importers. The Chinese knew about Africa and they had no qualms about slavery. In an alternative history our Crack would be railing about the evil Yellow man.

tim in vermont said...

Garage will still take the day off from his Government job.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

Having been to Chichen Itza, I can see how a person might have been overcome with wrath upon seeing it and might have felt justified in whatever evil he did himself against the rulers associated with it. Not that that's good, still bad, but I can see how easily the temptation could have formed.

furious_a said...

I can see how a person might have been overcome with wrath upon seeing it...

...or "it" being the survivors of Noche Triste witnessing their left-behind comrades being sacrificed, butchered, and fed to the gods/crowds.

RazorSharpSundries said...

Fuck Zinn and the grapefruit he sailed in on. Fuckin' commie shit-heel.

jr565 said...

"The pretense is that there really is such a thing as 'the United States,' subject to occasional conflicts and quarrels, but fundamentally a community of people with common interests. It is as if there really is a 'national interest' represented in the Constitution, in territorial expansion, in the laws passed by Congress, the decisions of the courts, the development of capitalism, the culture of education and the mass media."
And of course Howard Zinn would be the guy who would say that. Don't ever let it be said that Liberals like this country.
Note I said, Liberal with a capital L, as opposed to liberal. I'm sure there's some college age liberal who agrees with gay marriage who hasn't quite been indoctrinated into hating his tribe and his flag (assuming he's white - otherwise he'll be taught to hate his white race and his flag). But anyone indoctrinated by leftism is a carbon clone of Zinn. They should go die.

jr565 said...

For Zinn, did Columbus create the concept of slavery or did he simply exist in a time when slavery was commonplace?
What was Africa doing about slavery around the time of Columbus?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_Africa

Seems like you'd find a lot of Columbus's who had black skin who had no problem with slavery who didn't go on to discover the Americas.
And yes, I know the common refrain. how could hediscover it if people were already there? Then no one could discover anyplace. What then did he do? Well, he expanded Spain, and then the modern worlds idea of what the world looked like. Those living in America may have had that piece that no one else knew, but they were oblvious of Columbus's region of the world too. So, he brought understanding of the world to all involved. If you want to use a word other than discovery, fine. But he changed the world. Would the modern world have not existed. Well, someone else would have found the Americas eventually, and then we'd be celebrating THAT person instead.

jr565 said...

"Except, of course, that what you describe as "indigenous peoples [warring] among themselves" consisted of various invading cultures forcefully sweeping their enemies aside. By the time the Europeans arrived, there wasn't a square inch of the Americas that was still owned by the culture that had originally claimed it."
Back when Midnight Oil was talking about how Australia had to give Australia back to the aborignines I was reading about how the aborigines themselves weren't native to the region but came in and destroyed the previous culture (who's name now escapes me).

mikee said...

I read a good article yesterday - can't recall where - on the discovery of the Americas and the near simultaneous Christian victory over the expansion of Islam.

Odd that very few people today whine about the violent expansion of Islam from 700 to 1450, yet here we whine about the violent expansion of Christianity once Islam was stopped. Islam needed to be stopped. And expanding Christendom was seen at the time as a bulwark against further depredation of Christendom by the forces of Islam.