After reading the first chapter of Howard Zinn’s A Peoples of the United States, I am in disgust with Christopher Columbus, someone who I thought was so great. The American education system has taught children only one of the many perspectives of the story of Christopher Columbus. From historians to textbook writers to teachers there’s not one person to blame for the romanticizing of Columbus’ story. Columbus day is known as a celebration and most children only know Columbus as some hero who “discovered” America. Personally, as a child, I would always look forward to Columbus Day; It was a day off of school. I think the leaders of our country, teachers, historians, and as well as textbook writers need to expand on the idea that Christopher Columbus raped, killed, abused, and burned innocent people. Although I understand that it is easier “to emphasize the heroism of Columbus…and to deemphasize their genocide,” I feel that it is very wrong to avoid the truth of this man who we have been celebrating for centuries.
Christopher Columbus’ story is just one of the many stories in American history that are romanticized. Well to be exact, there aren’t any stories we are taught regarding the discovery of America that don’t involve Europeans taking over indigenous land. Zinn wrote that John Winthrop, the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, took over the Indian land because he thought they had a “‘natural’ right to it … a ‘natural right’ did not have legal standing.” This shows that the “discoverers” and “heroes” of America came to the land thinking that they owned every part of it with little to no respect or regard for the indigenous people who had been occupying the land for centuries. In addition to the Puritans, who were a part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Pilgrims’ story of Thanksgiving is celebrated annually throughout the whole country. The romanticized story of Thanksgiving gives off the image that the Pilgrims did this great thing of hosting a huge feast with the indigenous people. The problem is it is often forgotten that the Pilgrims invaded the Indian’s land, crop fields, and animals. This shows that the leaders, historians, and textbook writers of our country are quite ashamed of some aspects of America’s history and the coming of our country.