post #1 of 22
10/12/03 at 12:47pm
|In the darkness of an early morning in 1945, on a desolate spot in the New Mexico desert named after a John Donne sonnet celebrating the Holy Trinity, the first atomic bomb was exploded. Oppenheimer later remembered that the immense flash of light, followed by the thunderous roar, caused a few observers to laugh and others to cry. But most, he said were silent. Oppenheimer himself recalled at that instant a line from Bhagavad-Gita:
I am become death,
the shatterer of worlds.
There is no reason to think that anyone on board the Nina, Pinta, or the Santa Maria, on an equally dark early morning four and a half centuries earilier, thought of those ominous lines from the ancient Sanskrit poem when the crews of the Spanish ships spied a flicker of light on the windward side of the island they would name after the Holy Savior. But, the intuition, had it occurred, would have been as appropriate then as it was when the first nuclear blast rocked the New Mexico desert sands.
|Columbus himself was directly responsible for the deaths of some 280,000 Lucayans in the Bahamas and no fewer than eight million Tainos on the island of Hispaniola. They were either worked to death in the gold mines or hung in mass gallows (13 at a time, "in honor of our Redeemer and the twelve Apostles"). So to celebrate him, as Gitksan hereditary chief Wii Seeks notes caustically, "is like celebrating Hitler setting up the concentration camps."|
|Large and voracious mammals like cows and horses quickly munched away the native grasses, while aggressive pioneer species like dandelions, daisies and nettles moved into any open spaces, crowding out the weaker native flowers. Herds of cattle compacted the tropical soils and stripped away the ground cover that resisted soil erosion...."the whole hydrology, and thus the whole climate, of the area was slowly altered," Sales writes.|
|One of Columbus's fiercest critics, the Dominican bishop Bartolome de Las Casas, wrote in 1552 of Hispaniola: "It was the first to be destroyed and made into a desert." It was certainly not the last.|
|Originally posted by DaryLLL
kama, since Pythagarous and his guys knew the earth was round and had figured out its circumference to within a degree or two, using higher mathematics, circa 500 BCE, nope, not really.
|Originally posted by MFuglei
I don't credit Columbus for any great things. . . he set out on a known path to India. He just didn't know there was an entire continent in his way.
|Originally posted by Hilary
True I guess someone will point to the fact that contaminated blankets were passed out, but I don't know when it became common knowledge that smallpox could be passed person to person.
|I disagree with the idea that some people aren't worth studying. Columbus, and other more or less horrible figures in history, are integral to where our world is today. Just because we don't like some of the things they did, it doesn't mean that we get to pick and choose what's important to learn. That's revisionist.|
|Yes, I truly think this Day has had its day.|