The Seattle School Board asked Christopher Columbus to meet with them in executive session:
So Chris, may I call you Chris? I hate to break it to you but modern history will be taught to hold you accountable for the power structures that you brought with you to the New World, and existed more or less for centuries after you died. Sorry, but some one has to take the hit for white guilt. Now if you will excuse me I have to return to my comfortable home on Puget Sound, named after a man who arrived here 286 years after your death.
Columbus, it appears, is today held accountable for subsequent events well beyond his imagination and control after centuries of being feted.
In the not so distant past my nephew happened to be over after we returned from Spain. We had taken a hotel in Seville and spent considerable time in the city, including the cathedral. Columbus is buried there.
“I hate Columbus” he announced. I asked him why, and the answer was muddled. Like much of what is taught in high school, it is forgotten shortly after class is let out, but the strong emotion remains.
Dan Carlin, a journalist/podcaster of the most objective, and therefore refreshing school,
reports American history has been taught for decades that European settlement was the best thing that ever happened to the North American continent, hindered only by savages that refused to be Christianized. Then about the 1960’s the “Wounded Knee” camp took over. This is the generation of educators that now sought to blame European settlement for ruining a peaceful peoples co-existence with nature.
This camp remains in place it appears, as the Seattle School District #1 has chosen to name Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples Day declaring the Board has a responsibility to oppose the systematic racism towards Indigenous people in the United States, which perpetuates high rates of poverty and income inequality, exacerbating disproportionate health, education, and social crises and further recognizes the fact that Seattle is built upon the homelands and villages of the Indigenous Peoples of this region, without whom the building of the City would not have been possible;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Seattle School Board of Directors strongly encourages District staff to include the teaching of the history, culture, and governments of the indigenous peoples of our state, as recommended by Chapter 205, Session Laws of 2005.
As local media points out, what is now Seattle was first reached by Europeans about 1770, 270 years after Columbus’s multiple voyages to the Americas. Reading the log of the Santa Maria one does not get the sense that he made the trip to commit genocide or seize land. There is the trade route issue of course, but the log reflects his voyage sought gold and also souls.
Contextually then, here is a European being a European from the age. The results are tragic, but history often is.
I wonder what business it is of the Seattle School Board to oppose racism in this manner or draw sweeping causation between Columbus and the current conditions of American Indians. This doesn’t just tell what happened. It doesn’t allow the student to draw their own conclusions from a historical context. Instead declares an agenda we impress on the dead from the comfortable distance of centuries and judge by them by current standards.