History Twisted

October 13, 2014

220px-PinocchioClear and chilly this early-morn Monday on California’s north coast — there’s a misty-bit of ground fog, which seems to sparkle and glow when sunshine reaches through it, creating for just seconds, the illusion of a way-colorful buzz to the air.
Burns off pretty quick, though, if there’s no real off-shore wind.
Despite the fireball, we’re forecast for some rain, starting tonight — but who really knows?

Chunks from of our poem of the day — “In 1492:”

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

“Indians! Indians!” Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.

He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.

(Illustration found here)

What a crock of horrible shit!
One of probably several dysfunctional qualities of Americana is our history. And how we view that history, which has been so distorted, some parts redacted wholesale, that our sense of country is awash in illusion. Today’s second-tier holiday, Columbus Day, is a primo example — a conniving, murderous asshole transformed with an allure of cultural hero.
When I was in sixth grade — Sept. 1960 — the US was a postcard from a twisted edge. The words, Native American, meant a lot different back then, and is wasn’t usually a good term, either. The entire history of the US has been warped by an overbearing national sense of self-worth way-higher in the mind than the roots of it in reality.
A reader commented about Columbus Day this morning in the Guardian and nailed it: “We were taught that Columbus ‘freed the Indians!’, though what they were freed from – that was never said. It started with coloring pages and silly movies and evolved over the years to textbooks and essays. The narrative stayed the same throughout the years: he was a hero, he discovered America, and if you say otherwise, well, you’re just downright unpatriotic.”
History twisted nationally.

And also this morning at Voice of America — the reality history:

Every year, on the second Monday in October, the United States celebrates a federal holiday honoring a man who freely admitted committing atrocities against the native people of the Americas, including cutting off their hands, noses or ears to keep them in line, and sexually enslaving girls as young as nine, gifting them to his men.
“There are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls,” Christopher Columbus wrote in his journal in 1500.
“Those from nine to ten are now in demand.”
When Columbus arrived in the Bahamas (he never actually set foot in the contiguous United States) on Oct. 12, 1492, he noted the peaceful and hospitable nature of the native Arawaks, Lucayans and Taínos.
“They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features….They do not bear arms, and do not know them,” he wrote.
“They would make fine servants….With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

Nowadays, there’s a slow return to reality — many cities across the country celebrate ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day,’ instead of the Columbus version, and this from Time on the first one held out here, of course, on the Left Coast: Back in 1992, then-Mayor of Berkeley Loni Hancock told TIME Magazine that Columbus Day celebrations have been “Eurocentric and [have] ignored the brutal realities of the colonization of indigenous peoples.”
Twenty-two years ago, and it’s still on the “brutal realities” long-ended road.

Even to the point of revising history, again. Case in point, the bullshit in Jefferson County, Colo., last month (and still) on how history is taught in schools, leaving out the uncomfortable stuff, and soaking the rest in bleach.
One terrible story I saw this morning in all his human configuration, was a story of how Columbus lied by using astronomical tables from an almanac — scare the natives, then kill them.
The little article at Discovery didn’t say anything about what happened afterwards:

Finally, after being stranded for more than six months, half of Columbus’ crew mutinied, robbing and murdering some of the Arawaks, who themselves had grown weary of supplying cassava, corn and fish in exchange for little tin whistles, trinkets, hawk’s bells and other trashy goods.
With famine now threatening, Columbus formulated a desperate, albeit ingenious plan.

And he soon discovered from studying its tables that on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 29, 1504, a total lunar eclipse would occur, beginning around the time of moonrise.
Armed with this knowledge, three days before the eclipse, Columbus requested a meeting with the Arawak chief and informed him that his Christian god was very angry with his people for no longer supplying him and his men with food.
Therefore, he was about to provide a clear sign of his displeasure: Three nights hence, he would all but obliterate the rising full moon, making it appear “inflamed with wrath,” which would signify the evils that would soon be inflicted upon all of them.

According to Columbus’ son, Ferdinand, the Arawaks were terrified at this sight and “with great howling and lamentation came running from every direction to the ships laden with provisions and beseeching the admiral to intercede with his god on their behalf.”
They promised that they would happily cooperate with Columbus and his men if only he would restore the moon back to its normal self.
The great explorer told the natives that he would have to retire to confer privately with his god.
He then shut himself in his cabin for about 50 minutes.

Just moments before the end of the total phase Columbus reappeared, announcing to the Arawaks that his god had pardoned them and would now allow the moon to gradually return.
And at that moment, true to Columbus’ word, the moon slowly began to reappear, and as it emerged from the Earth’s shadow, the grateful Arawaks hurried away.
They then kept Columbus and his men well supplied and well fed until a relief caravel from Hispaniola arrived on June 29, 1504.
Columbus and his men returned to Spain on Nov. 7.

And before departing, slaughtered and raped and consumed until nothing was left.
One last piece of history — via Raw Story and a good-buddy of Columbus, Michele da Cuneo, and some twisted-sister history on a captured Native American woman:

She was unwilling, and so treated me with her nails that I wished I had never begun.
But — to cut a long story short — I then took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly, and she let forth such incredible screams that you would not have believed your ears.
Eventually we came to such terms, I assure you, that you would have thought that she had been brought up in a school for whores.

Happy holiday!

(Illustration out front found here).

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