A day to remember

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By John Pawlak

In the 1937 movie, “Shall We Dance,” Ira Gershwin penned a song, “They All Laughed,” ridiculing the people who ridiculed the “great men of history.”
The lyrics included — “They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round. They all laughed when Edison recorded sound. They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother when they said that man could fly. They told Marconi that wireless was a phony. It’s the same old cry.”
Gershwin certainly knew music, but he didn’t know squat about history.
In the third century BC (more than 2,200 years ago), the Greek mathematician Eratosthenes (often referred to as the “Father of Geography”) used shadows to calculate the circumference of the Earth. Even with such crude methods, his calculations were nonetheless fairly accurate.
Depending on which version of the Greek unit of length “stadion” he used, his measurement was anywhere from 1.5 percent to 16 percent off the true circumference.
Not bad for someone born more than 1,700 years before Columbus.
Despite Eratosthenes’ achievement, I remember being taught in school that Columbus “proved that the Earth was round.”
All educated people back in Columbus’ day knew that the Earth was spherical. Only the uneducated and the ignorant thought it was flat.
Of course, I don’t mean to offend Daniel Shenton and his Flat Earth Society.
(Actually, I do. He’s an idiot’s idiot.)
Anyway, back to our hero, Christopher Columbus. We celebrate his revered name and his historic achievements, honoring his contributions and remembering that fateful day, Oct. 12, 1492, when he first discovered the Americas.
Columbus has been geographically canonized in our country. For example, we have Columbus, Ohio. In fact, there are 23 states in which cities, towns and townships have been named after good ol’ Chris. There’s even a Columbus, New Mexico.
The “C” in our capital city, Washington D.C., honors Columbus. The Knights of Columbus was named after him. Four United States Navy ships have graced the name USS Columbus. The Columbia River was named after him, as was Columbia University. Even the entrance march for the vice president of the United States is the song, “Hail, Columbia.”
And, of course, many Americans get to spend an entire day honoring that great man on the Federal holiday, Columbus Day.
Oh, what a bunch of horse manure!
Columbus was nothing more than a sociopathic, narcissistic, mass murderer. He tortured the natives, brutalized them, raped the women and killed children. Yeah, I can see why we dedicated a day for him.
Why do we commemorate schizoids like Columbus? Upon returning to Europe, tales of his brutalities and atrocities resulted in his being found guilty of “crimes against humanity.”
He was briefly imprisoned for his treatment of the natives, lost his governorship, and never regained the prestige he had previously “earned” by finding a shorter route to the Indies.
Of course, he never did find that route. He never even reached the main continent of North America.
Seriously, what merits celebrating this cretin? Several states have discarded the holiday. California and Texas don’t give the day off to workers. Wisconsin has replaced the day with “Indigenous People’s Day.” The holiday is not observed by South Dakota, Hawaii, Alaska, Iowa, or Nevada.
I wonder, do they celebrate Columbus Day in the Bahamas? That’s where he first landed, “discovering” the new world (as if the people living there didn’t already know it existed). His next voyage brought him to Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominica Republic).
Subsequent voyages led him to South America. He never even got close to what is now America.
To his dying day, Columbus insisted that he had in fact landed in Asia.
And so we celebrate a totally delusional idiot who was known for selling 9-year old girls into sexual slavery, for burning people alive, for dismembering, raping, and beheading natives for fun and for the mass murder of more than three million natives.
Columbus Day truly is a day for us to pause and remember.
So this Columbus Day, please do that. Remember.