Trump’s praise of Columbus omits dark history as cities dump Columbus Day
President Donald Trump’s first presidential proclamation of Columbus Day gave only high praise to the 15th century explorer, a stark contrast to the proclamation made by President Barack Obama one year earlier.
“Therefore, on Columbus Day, we honor the skilled navigator and man of faith, whose courageous feat brought together continents and has inspired countless others to pursue their dreams and convictions — even in the face of extreme doubt and tremendous adversity,” Trump said.
“As we reflect on the adventurers throughout history who charted new courses and sought new heights, let us remember the communities who suffered, and let us pay tribute to our heritage and embrace the multiculturalism that defines the American experience.”
In recent years, some cities have either dumped Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous People’s Day, or have marked both occasions on the second Monday of October.
So what did Columbus really do?
He wasn’t the first to discover the New World, the term generally used to refer to the modern-day Americas. Indigenous people had been living there for centuries by the time Columbus arrived in 1492.
While many schoolchildren learn about the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, less appealing details of Columbus’ journeys include the enslavement of Native Americans and the spread of deadly diseases.
“Columbus didn’t know that his voyage would spread diseases across the continents, of course, but disease wasn’t the only problem. … He also took slaves for display back home and to work in his conquered lands.”