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Another Voice: Ruthlessness predated the arrival of Columbus

By Michael Giallombardo

On Aug. 25, The News published an article regarding the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue and renaming Columbus Park in Buffalo.
Brandon Absher, who wants the statue taken down and park renamed, is quoted as stating Columbus “established the beachhead for ruthless conquest … and inaugurated the genocidal devastation of whole continents.”

I suggest that Absher do some research and check out historical facts. Long before Columbus set foot in the New World, people had been conquering others and enslaving them.

Let’s start with the cave man. When raiding other caves, which they did, they usually took no prisoners, or if there were survivors, they made them slaves.

Fast forward to the Americas, way before Columbus’ arrival. The brutality of the native tribes is well documented, especially the Aztecs. Warring city-state tribes – and there were many – destroyed other city-states, enslaved captives and raped and sacrificed prisoners for coronations and temple ceremonies. (It is written that one brutal ruler “sacrificed 84,000 prisoners in a period of days for his coronation.”)

As you can tell, they didn’t need a “beachhead for ruthless conquest” and Columbus to “inaugurate genocidal devastation.” The city-state tribes could have taught the Spanish conquerors (1517) and others a “thing or two” about brutality.

Other tribes were no better. They, too, practiced genocide, enslavement and rape. They held war captives as slaves and used torture as religious rites. Often these rites included cannibalism. Selling or trading slaves to other tribes was a good business. (Sound familiar?)

Again a “beachhead” had already been established way before any white man was even thought of by these native tribes. Who taught whom?

Now, getting to the destruction of statues, parks and anything named after Columbus, a few more facts should be told. It will take the Abshers many lifetimes to achieve it, if ever. Just to list a few of the many things named after Columbus would take a whole page of this newspaper.

For starters, there is a country, and more than 230 cities, towns, villages and counties in North and South America named after Columbus. There is the space shuttle Columbia, which was the first shuttle to orbit the earth and flew 28 missions. Many other scientific endeavors also carry his name. How about the District of Columbia? How many rivers, street names and schools are named after the explorer? Too many to count.

Could Columbus have been that terrible and the folks who named all these places and things after him been that wrong? I don’t think so.

Instead of vandalizing the statue, opponents should expend their energy cleaning up the graffiti for the city or volunteering to help one of the local Native American reservations. We know they are not going away; neither are we.

Michael Giallombardo, of Buffalo, is a retired teacher and school administrator in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District.

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