On “Truth”, Christopher Columbus, and MLK, Jr.

I will not be able to meet with you all on February 4th, but we can still do some vital work with regards our unit theme of “truth” – and that is precisely what I want to do through your first Blogpost of the semester.  For “class”, you are to choose one of two well-known articles to read, written by Howard Zinn and Derrick Aldridge, respectively.  Then, for your Blog post, I want you to respond and share what you found to be most striking about the “truths” illuminated in your chosen article.  Please note:  your response should be no less than two robust paragraphs in length.  If you choose to respond to the Zinn article, you might consider, for example, the question of what, exactly, the “truth” is concerning Christopher Columbus’s journey?  What are some of the main obstacles to really knowing the “truth” on this contentious subject?  Also, does Zinn’s account demonstrate that it is “inevitable” that the writing of history takes sides?  Alternately, if you choose to respond to the Aldridge article, you might explore the ways in which Martin Luther King, Jr. is characteristically (and narrowly) portrayed in the mass media, working to identify which of his ideas are most commonly communicated to the public – and to think about why he is portrayed in this way.  Furthermore, what gets lost for those who aren’t able to see beyond the “master narratives” that Aldridge describes concerning King?  For both of these articles, what are the broader implications for our perceptions of the “truth”?

28 thoughts on “On “Truth”, Christopher Columbus, and MLK, Jr.

  1. When many people think of Columbus I believe that they think of him founding South America and the “good” that he did. This is partially due to the fact that he has a holiday named after him. However, since we are exploring the concept of truth, I believe the article written by Zinn shows us a different side of Columbus, and perhaps a more truthful story than most of us have previously been taught. Regarding truth, despite his efforts, Columbus didn’t even know the real truth about where he was exploring. He thought he had sailed to Asia, when in reality the truth was that he had sailed to the Americas. An example of Columbus’ lack of truth was this, “The first man to sight land was supposed to get a yearly pension of 10,000 maravedis for life, but Rodrigo never got it. Columbus claimed he had seen a light the evening before. He got the reward.” Zinn exposes him here as an untrustworthy person. Columbus’ reports to Madrid were also exposed as over exaggerated lies, as he went on about how much gold and spices he was finding in Asia, which was not the case. He also promised the Majesties gold and slaves which was untruthful as he did not bring back what he had promised. Upon his first voyage he took advantage of the Indians and their kindness, only to capture many of them as slaves and prisoners during his second voyage. Overall, I believe when we are taught about Columbus and his discoveries more emphasis should be put on the aspect of truth and how his story is so affected by the lack there of.

    • Its safe to say we all grow up knowing about Christopher Columbus; we’re raised in classrooms that praise him for being the great man to discover America; we have a national holiday honoring his work. And still, the average citizen might not know the real truth behind America’s “discovery” or the man who takes claim for it. As we analyze truth, and the reason why a truth might be misinterpreted, it’s important to note that Columbus was made into the perfect, kind explorer he’s known as today on purpose. It wouldn’t be beneficial to Americans to publically acknowledge and treasure a holiday commemorating a man who committed terrible acts of inhumanity against people of different cultures; not to mention the fact that the in question was a few thousand miles off his target in the first place.
      Columbus was initially sailing to Asia. First he came across the Bahamas in 1942 (Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1942, etc.) Once there he tricked a few of the Native people, the Arawaks, into coming to Spain. He traveled back twice more, each time bringing more and more pain to the indigenous people. In his quest to find gold, Columbus ended up unquestionably being responsible for the death of the majority of native people and the eventual spread of European civilization. Zinn, the author of “Columbus, The Indians and Human Progress” makes a point of comparing the history we’re taught as children (the one that most average civilians believe to be true) and the actual historical truth. It’s fascinating the way our government has propagated this farce in order to build a strong sense of nationalism and trust in our country and subsequently the government. Growing up in America, it’s amazing how many things we’re not taught, such as the outrageous offenses America has committed in the past (Vietnam, etc.). The truth about history is that it’s skewed to make whoever is telling the story seem like the good guy. In America, Americans are the protagonist. Everyone else attacked us. That’s why articles like Zinn’s are so shocking and uncomfortable for most of us to read. It’s hard for us to admit that sometimes we’re in the wrong and we celebrate anyway.

  2. Some of the most striking “truths” I found read this article on Christopher Columbus were dreadful. Within the first two years that Columbus and his men got to Haiti, half of the original 250,000 Indians were either killed, raped, or committed suicide. The “truths” in which Columbus told Spain when he returned with slaves from “Asia/China” was very strange to me because no one took control to try and find valid evidence that it was the truth. Everyone just played along with Columbus’s “truths” for their greater purpose to get ahead in the world. Another shocking “truth” to me was that after all the kindness and hospitality the Arawak Indians gave to them, they still had the nerve to treat them in that ghastly manner. The “truth” of the exploration that resulted in massive bloodshed is only truly understood as the progress and discovery made that is talked about in our history textbooks growing up. The “truth” of his journey is only that Columbus founded this land in 1492 with the misunderstanding of the world’s true circumference. We know as a fact that Columbus and his men ran into an unfamiliar human race that was much different than theirs. Another truth is that not much gold was found after all of this time. The events and details between all of these “truths” could have been distorted and changed based off of certain viewpoints.

    The main obstacles that keeps the world from knowing the “truth” is not having the Arawak Indian’s side of what happened. This could have been maybe because of the language barrier or just because no one cared or wanted to ask them. Also, people only know or believe what Columbus and his men say, so that side seems that “right” story or side to them. Another obstacle is that everyone had their focus on the progress Columbus was making for Spain and not way in which they got there. We don’t really know how many people were in the new world and how many were exactly killed because there was no previous knowledge. The only “truths” were based on Columbus’s “knowledge”. I do not believe Zinn is necessarily saying it certain to happen that the writing of history takes sides. But he is saying historians more often than not write based on a common interest of the majority of the readers. He is saying that a writing needs to be engaged more than just technically. The historians tend to write to engage the majority of readings, which mostly entails writing on the agreement side of the main idea In some writing of this historical story, it is the progress of Spain and Columbus’s finding of the new world that is shown at the surface, not the bloodshed that occurred. The “truth” is the statements in a historical writing or reading that doesn’t lean one way of an interest or party. It is not seen in this reading or some other readings as a necessity to fully explain the “truth” with both sides of a story but rather state what “they” (Spain government) believe is important to them and beneficial to just them.

  3. After reading the article on Christopher Columbus a few times, I still really do not know what the “truth” is. Today we celebrate a Holiday named after Columbus, which is because he “founded” our land and others. The first thing that caught my attention in the article was during the first voyage, and the man who could sight land first would get a yearly pension of 10,000 maravedis for life. The true man who first sighted land was Rodrigo, however Columbus claimed he has seen a light the evening before so he ended up getting the reward. To me, Columbus easily could have lied, if he truly saw light of land the evening before, he should have ran around telling everybody. There is no proof that he did so for all we know he really did not spot land first and Rodrigo was the first person to see land.
    Columbus asked the Majesties for help on his next voyage and in return he would bring them many slaves and all the gold they wanted. Because of this promise he had mad they accepted his offer. However, Columbus could not keep up with most of the promise. He would send back people to be slaves, but many of them would die through the process. Also, there was not much gold where they would go. The only gold that was around was the bits of dust garnered from the streams. Obviously the Majesties were not happy with this. The truth about the gold is that there really was no gold to be found at the time in the area they were at. Columbus should not have made such a big promise.
    This is just one side of the story; we do not get the side of the Arawak men and women’s sides. Maybe if we were to have their side of the story with Columbus coming in we would know more about what would have went on. Everybody sees history in a different way. So why should be believe in just this one view from this article. I am not saying this article is wrong, but what the real truth to the story of Columbus is; we will never know the real truth. We only will know what others believe and what they want us to believe.

  4. Christopher Columbus who famously in “1492 sailed the ocean blue” discovered the Bahamas that year and came across people known as the Arawak’s. He is known for his voyages paving the way for European exploration for years to come but there’s a little more “truth” to be told in that. The most striking “truths” in Howard Zinn’s article happens to be when the first person on board spotted land, they were supposed to receive an reward. A sailor by the name of Rodrigo spotted that land but a not-so-trustworthy Columbus claimed he was the one to see it to get the reward and fame. Also Columbus took many Arawak people on board as a sense of kidnapping to better find the gold he was promised to bring back to Spain. On his second expedition after pleading and exaggerating his description of the “gracious” land he took even more slaves into captivity and brought them back to Spain to be auctioned off.
    Afterwards on his third try to bring back gold he ordered each person to receive a certain amount of gold from the land today known as Haiti. If you did not find the gold you were required to bring back, you were killed and this was only the beginning of many mass suicides. Some obstacles specific to this article about knowing the truth and how much of it is due to the lack of a single story. This was told in the viewpoint of one person instead of a number of sources with different angles to go along with it. If there was any way possible to get a story from a sailor’s point of view or a captured Arawak or Indian or Columbus maybe, just more than one source to fully access the “whole truth” of the situation. Embedded within the last two pages of Zinn’s article he elaborates on how historians whether they mean it or not emphasize certain points more than others. To add, they are prone to take sides and tell it how they were told or how they researched. “History is the memory of the states” wrote Henry Kissinger in which history or stories are told from the viewpoint of the country that was ultimately successful and their “best” version of it.

  5. It is without a doubt difficult and a bit painful to read through Howard Zinn’s “Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress.” However, not completely shocking. As a fourth year college student, I have sat through my fair share of history courses, some being American history. I was well aware of the many atrocities that occurred when Columbus found the new world. I knew of the lies that he told when he returned to Europe about how his first visit went. He arrived to the Americas and used and abused the natives. He was a nasty man who was greedy and would do anything to be wealthy and world renowned.

    What I liked about this article is that Zinn added his point that there are different sides to every story. The most known side about Columbus is that he valiantly traveled the seas and ended up discovering the new world. He began to colonize the nation we now know as America. He goes down in history as a hero. We know that the Native Americans disappeared rapidly, but the history books manage to cover up the real reasons as to why. That is the truth that we as Americans are exposed to. It is taught to us at such a young age that it is all most of us know. However, when people like Zinn step up and show the other side of the story, many more truths are revealed. We cannot be sure how many natives there were in the Americas when Columbus first showed up, but we do know that the vast majority were killed by the turn of the century. I believe that the biggest obstacle to revealing these truths is getting around the history books. The government teaches us the truths that they want to teach us. However, it is very important that we as a nation delve deeper to find every truth, even the ones that are difficult to swallow.

  6. “Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress” by Howard Zinn tells the story of Columbus from the viewpoint of the Arawaks, Natives of the Bahama Islands where Columbus first sailed on his journey to discover the new world. Zinn illuminates a different viewpoint that goes against the idealistic view that society has of Christopher Columbus. The truth of history is especially difficult to conceptualize because the focus was centered on Columbus discovering new lands and finding gold and slaves to bring back. The problem with this is that we are not able to know exactly what happened in terms of the Arawaks because the fundamental focus of his journey was to find gold and he did everything in his power to retrieve it. This determination is what leads people to be easily believe the story of Columbus. Although he did have determination, the way he went about getting the gold that is omitted from the history books that we read is still a part of the story. This makes it extremely difficult to determine the actual truth because depending on the person telling the story, they can tell it in any way that will favor them or get them the most recognition. This lack of understanding for what really occurred in many historical events leads us to fill in the blanks with an idealistic story, told to highlight the heroism of Christopher Columbus. The story is a textbook example of how historians have been conditioned to believe that knowledge should not be associated with politics in order to lessen the possible ramifications that could follow releasing a story like this one.

    History is inevitably impartial regardless of the place and time it is told. There is a limit to how much can be made out of the actual truth but many historians have pushed that limit throughout history. History inevitably takes sides but depending on where it is told, parts of the story can be added or misplaced and parts can also be emphasized and deemphasized to spark the interest of society. The real truth of Christopher Columbus’ journey can never be fully articulated but it can be inferred that the story we are commonly told of this heroic man is not entirely true. The story of Columbus is told by moral quantity so that it is more easily accepted by society because the whole truth would be too deadly.

  7. As a high school graduate I can confidently state that I have never gone through a single school year where I did not learned about Martin Luther King Jr. As students we learn about all of his accomplishments, and he is portrayed as somewhat of a perfect person. Derrick Aldridge has brought to our attention that the way textbooks depict Mr. King can be very misleading. Also by portraying Mr. King as the only driver of the movement people lose interest in the subject. Students are learning the same things about the same activist year after year making everything seem repetitive and boring. Really there were so many other driving forces behind the movement that textbooks never seem to bring light too. Aldridge explains that Mr. King was described in three varying ways in most textbooks, King as a messiah, King as the embodiment of the civil rights movement, and King as the moderate. Textbooks almost never, depict Martin Luther King Jr. as a human being that makes mistakes, has shortcomings, has personal struggles, and most of all the textbooks lack the idea that there was any kind of tension between him, other civil rights activists, and Christians.

    Our perception of truth can be directly correlated to our level of intelligence. As children and students we are basically forced to believe that Martin Luther King Jr. was the main force behind the civil rights movement. In reality, the movement started before his time, and there were other activists who paved the way for Mr. King. You rarely hear about Booker T. Washington, Anna Julia Cooper, and so many more people that really started the movement. Many people also believe that the movement ended once Mr. King was assassinated, and that just isn’t the truth. With the lack of knowledge of the history in the country in which we reside, we are uninformed and can seem uneducated. Lacking honesty and truth in our textbooks radically effects our country as a whole. With Mr. King highlighted as the messiah, embodiment, and moderate, people lose the ability to really know the truth about the history of America. Textbook companies portray Mr. King and many other people as flawless because they want to paint the perfect picture in children’s minds, not exploit them to the hard truth.

  8. While reading Zinn’s article on Columbus, I found myself realizing that history truly is written by the victor. Throughout our childhood, we’ve been taught that Christopher Columbus was an outstanding guy who achieved great things. I’m not here to downplay his expertise as a sailor, but rather to question the truth about what we know. We only have his side of history to look back and reflect on. How would things be different if we had the native’s perspective? The truth about Columbus’ journey is that he initiated the first genocide in the western hemisphere. Zinn goes into extreme detail about the way that the natives were treated. For example, Zinn states how “two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys.” By referencing this is an example of the brutality of Columbus’ men, Zinn is trying to relate to the reader using emotion, or using pathos as an approach.
    Obviously, the truth will never fully come to fruition. The only people who know what truly happened have been dead for nearly six hundred years. That is the main factor about knowing the truth. The only thing we have today to go off of is someone’s words from over half a millennium ago. I’m sure Columbus also exaggerated in his memoirs like he did when we reported back to the king and queen of Spain about the gold in the Indies, so is that even a reliable source? In my opinion the answer is no. Zinn’s account proves that history takes sides. Like I said earlier, history is written by the victors. The entire Christopher Columbus saga is a perfect example. History textbooks always leave out the fact that Columbus slaughtered thousands and thousands of Indians. Zinn’s article sheds light on that fact and really brings the truth forward.

  9. Many people have a preconceived notion about Christopher Columbus. This is most likely because all history textbooks teach that in 1942 Columbus discovered the new western lands. However what the history textbooks neglect to teach is that Columbus was only interested in money and would do anything to get it. When Columbus took his first trip the King of Spain offered a reward to the first person to spot land. One of Columbus’ sailors spotted land, however, Columbus took credit for the discovery so he could reap the benefits of the reward. On top of this, he treated the native people very poorly. The Arawaks were the native people of the Bahamas and when Columbus arrived he forced many of them to work for him. He even sold some of the native people back to Spain as slaves for a profit. On top of this, Columbus took any measure possible to try and find the gold that he thought could be found. He enslaved Arawaks, forced the natives to work for him, and even told his own men that he would kill them if they didn’t come back to the ship with gold. Unfortunately this lead to many of Columbus’s men killing themselves, in fear that he would kill them if they returned without gold.
    This story of Christopher Columbus is extremely different from that in most history textbooks. This vast difference in stories raises a few red flags. Why is the story of Christopher Columbus so sugar coated and why are there different accounts of the story? The story of Columbus that kids learn about in school is extremely watered down, this is most likely because if they told the truth about Columbus no one would want to celebrate him for finding the new land. While the way Columbus acted was unacceptable and harsh is should be noted that he was, at least, part of the crew that discovered the “New World” and this is something to be celebrated. The bigger question that this story raises is, can history be biased. The answer to this question is yes, the people alive today were not alive when Columbus discovered the new world, therefore, everything we know, or think we know, comes from history textbooks. This gives historians all the power since people are forced to accept what they say as true they can spin stories to a certain degree. For this reason no one can ever really know the full truth, the only thing people can base their knowledge on is what they are told. The truth is extremely subjective and history is no different. A different point of view on a subject could change people’s perspective on history and the truth.

  10. In Middle School every year on October 12 we would learn about how Christopher Columbus discovered America. As we got older we learned he had the King and Queen of Spain to fund his trip. He set out to find Asia where he believed there was gold, but instead hit America. At first glance this all sounded innocent and good. However, Finn shed a new light on Christopher Columbus. Christopher Columbus left a log saying how he turned the Arawaks, who were so welcoming to the people on his ships, into slaves.

    After reading Zinn’s article Christopher Columbus seems like a violent man. Columbus got into a fight with Indians who refused to trade him the bows and arrows he wanted. He stabbed two of them with a sword. I think these kinds of truths are hidden from us because no one wants to know the bad things in our history. Everyone wants to hear about how good America is so the evil things of our past history are buried and not discussed.

  11. Howard Zinn, in this article, really captures the role of Christopher Columbus’ icon that is known in the United States today and completely turns it to spread the “truth” of his history. “The first man to sight land was supposed to get a yearly pension of 10,000 maravedis for life, but Rodrigo never got it. Columbus claimed he had seen a light the evening before. He got the reward.” Just from this statement Zinn exposed Columbus’ main desire and how his greediness would lead him to lie and exaggerate to get everything he could want. The biggest lie in my perspective are not the lies who told the King and Queen or the people who sponsored his expeditions but the way he lied to himself. It shows how he was so worried of what everyone else would think of him that he convinced himself that there was gold no matter what. Essentially that lead to his crew being lied to, and getting killed over. Once Columbus discovered this it does not even say he was mournful for the deaths of his crew. Instead he just decided to enslave the Indians native to the land for riches and for the “land of gold” he saw in a vision. He worked them to death ultimately leading to a genocide of the Arawak men and women.

    Zinn has proved that when writing history people will always take a side depending on the evidence provided. We have to believe what people tell us is the truth because this all took place between the late 1400’s to the mid 1600’s which is between 400 to 600 years ago. No one alive was there to see what exactly happened nor could the Indians even write to explain their feelings and their side. All we have to prove that Columbus was an ignorant, greedy man was the massive death of the natives when he arrived and the shipwrecks found along with journals. However with all this the story can be perceived in a wrong way. I am not one to say he was a terrible person based off his actions only because I do not know the good he always accomplished. When you look at this article you need to be open-minded because you are only seeing one side of a story without full evidence.

  12. An inconvenient truth is often called so because its realization is an unpleasant experience to those who learn of it. Many popular topics today are not as deeply understood as one would think. The expeditions of Christopher Columbus as detailed in “Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress” by Howard Zinn reveal a far more gruesome truth than what the Average American learns in school. Through several extracted quotations from Las Casas’s History of the Indies and the later works of Harvard’s Samuel Eliot Morison, the frank truth of Columbus’s expeditions are made evident; he led not only an exploratory force, but a complete genocide of a peaceful people.
    Over the course of Columbus’s existence in what is now the Bahamas, tens upon tens of thousands of the native Arawaks Indians were slaughtered and sold until they had completely disappeared as a people. Of course this is the side of Columbus’s story that is seldom heard. History may happen, but it’s conveyed value is at the hands of those who record and report on its events. Had the case of the Arawaks Indians been something that the welfare of America were to hinge on today, Columbus would be portrayed as a monster who had stopped at nothing in the pursuit of self-betterment. The conscientious choice to justify one side of the story over another is fueled by the necessity that the given story fill a specific purpose. History is as powerful a political tool as it is a teacher. This was made popular by George Orwell’s novel 1984, in which the Ingsoc parade their slogan “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” In this case the brave adventurer Christopher Columbus is a hero because he was the first man to discover America. The mass murders he commanded are forgiven and rarely mentioned because he found this land that allows us to be who we are today. This is also true because the weight of Columbus’s decisions would be too much of a bad image on the descendants of those involved. Zinn’s account is a beaming example that the portrayal of history will always be on a biased basis. North Korea is a current day example of manipulated history, wherein their supreme ruler holds a godly status and controls every aspect of his citizen’s lives. To someone who was born in North Korea, the history they were taught has become their truth despite the faults that are obvious to the rest of us on the outside. Unfortunately time has shown and will likely show again that the perceived truths of the world are swayed by those who control its history.

  13. Howard Zinn’s Columbus, the Indians and Human progress broaches the subject of truth in history, giving us eye witness accounts of the real events of discovery of our Country. Every child who makes it through school learns that Columbus was simply the explorer who first traveled to the American continent, even if by accident, but it’s never taught that the man who “pioneered” his way into the Americas had his entire success built on falsehoods and empty promises of imaginary gold. Making your way through the reading, it’s easy to understand why this knowledge, this final and crucial piece of the story is kept hidden from children. Similar to the allegory of the cave, the reader is exposed to knowledge that burns them like seeing the sun for the first time. Knowing that all of America and its storied past is built on a foundation of the kidnapped, the tortured and the dead. And like the former cave dweller, you can be left wondering if it was ever worth knowing, but it is the truth and it is necessary.

  14. The definition of evil according to google is: profoundly immoral and malevolent. When you take the time to think about evil and what it means, genocide can immediately pop into your mind. In Howard Zinn’s writing, a shocking truth was revealed about Christopher Columbus and his journey to America. The complete eradication of the Arawak people is as disturbing as it gets among the evils of human history. The Arawak people, upon meeting the men commanded by Columbus offered their possessions and kindness to the men and were rewarded with death and destruction. In searching for the “truth” Bartolome de las Casas was mentioned as one of one of the most in-depth accounts of what happened in the Caribbean.
    In the telling of history, there are obstacles in the way of truth. With this particular case the story can never be told by the Arawak people because unfortunately, none survived. Often times the stories are only told by biased winners of wars or lost to time. The implications from our perceptions of truth are quite disturbing. In America we have a holiday celebrating a man who oversaw genocide. To honor such a man is a complete embarrassment, regardless that Columbus “found America”. Children are taught a story that’s convenient rather than the truth.

    • It is pretty crazy to think that we are completely told different “truths” about our past in American history. Furthermore we also need to think that we can’t just take this as strictly fact as well. If anything it needs to open our eyes to the idea that truth needs to come from a lot more than just what we hear and what we read being that there was once a time we didn’t think of him like this, and how this article is making us think the exact opposite of the “hero” he was made to be in our earlier years of teaching. We need to learn that we need to really evaluate something from as many sources as available before forming our own opinion of the truth.

  15. When I was in my younger and we learned shorten history about the discovery of America from Columbus and forward, we always had a very short version. We were basically told that when Columbus came, he played nice with the Indians. That they got along very well and that there were not bad intentions from either of them. Very quickly we would then move the concepts like the first Thanks Giving and the harmonization that was made to sound like the normal events that occurred during early settling. This document has a much different point of view than the “g” rated version of the one we got as kids in school for so many years in a row.
    Very quickly we are given a much different view on Columbus. One that makes him sound greedier than the adventurous man that we were once told he was. This shows how much “truth” can change as you get older. Within this article. We are told that Columbus did everything from capturing and torturing natives in an attempt to find gold, had been in part some of the reason for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of natives, and had even lied about a citing of land in order to get a reward rather than the person who had actually saw it first. Now we can’t take all of this for truth because it was written by the author that he was writing this piece in bias against the idea of a “good Columbus.” However, it opens our eyes from what could be the truth, rather than just starring at the shadows on the wall that were told to us in our younger days.

  16. I believe that what Zinn is trying to convey or the truth behind his piece is the truth of Columbus on a whole. So many people just think he was this simple explorer that found the Americas and other countries but, no one is taught in school how he took slaves and how brutal he was to the natives all so that he could pay back all the promises he made to all the people who invested in his trip. The atrocities that he committed go so un-spoke of that the Columbus most people know is not even the real one; sure many teachers could say they’re not lying to students by not telling them but, sins of omission are still a little “white lie” and even myself was surprised to learn of everything he did while traveling from island to island all in the name of gold. Having no background on him would make learning about all of this easier to accept and learn about because all I can think about are the three main ships that sailed and thinking about the Indians, Columbus and Thanksgiving.

    It is said that history all takes the side of the victor; in this case, it is most certainly true. No one hears about the genocide committed by Columbus or how his trip went from one of exploration to the beginning of colonization and slavery. Columbus Day and all of the teachings in grade school make it extremely difficult to make any truth of different information about Columbus. Everything that I read however, makes clear sense because at times, whole cultures and people were wiped off of the map when encountered by Columbus and no one hears about any of that. One has to understand that maybe he was naturally this brutal all the time but, even if he wasn’t, he had a lot of promises and all of Spain looking at him for results that perhaps were unrealistic so, the pressure to produce these results could have turned him into a different man during his trip. Zinn brings many issues into why historians today would lie or speak about the whole truth and it seems to coincide with the pressures on Columbus because people today are taught to learn or teach about something in which it flows with the views of society; so, as soon as people starting telling how horrible Columbus realty was, they’d be written off as insane or someone just trying to get their 15 minutes of fame and just to do it through the defaming of a “national hero”.

  17. Kristen Blevins
    4 February 2016
    Truth: Christopher Columbus
    Zinn talks about how he enjoys writing about historical events from the view point of the minorities and victims. He feels that this gives a better and different view point on the events as opposed to other writers. Although he is not incorrect, his writings still do not give the absolute truth: just a different side to the story. Zinn mentions how elementary school books do not speak of the murders by Columbus and his crew, only the heroism. Other writers mention the “truth” but leave out some crucial details. Some writers even exaggerate details to exemplify what most had left out. All stories tell different tales about that same single event in history. For a reader to get a good (but not perfect) grasp on “the truth”, they must read all writings about the event, see all sides, and piece together their own logical opinion. However, unfortunately, although the “truth” can be assimilated, it will never be fully understood.
    In relation to this, Zinn mentions map makers from the age of discovery. It was just accepted (by most) that the world was round. This opened up many new ideas. As sailors like Columbus traveled the seas to discover land and gold, they had map makers report their route. However, all maps were different based on their intentions. Similar to the historic writings, maps omitted truths to portray what was wanted. There were many different maps for the same location. Even today one can search different kinds of maps that say different things.
    The main idea of what I have gathered, is that the truth is never truly known. Any writing, even factual, is biased. Every human has an opinion. Therefore, and story that is written is simply the author’s opinion. A reader can gather a multitude of opinions but still they are left to decide what the feel is true. Even if one experiences a situation for themselves, they are basing it off of their opinions and judgement. Yes, generally accepted ideas based on logic and similarity in stories is made, as for details, nothing could ever really be considered “true”.

  18. After completing the Christopher Columbus article by Howard Zinn, you see the viewpoint coming from the Arawaks and natives of the Bahama Islands where Columbus first set foot on his journey to find the new world. Throughout our childhood we were shown the heroic figure of Columbus whom achieved many great things. In which he had a holiday named after him that we loved because it usually resulted in the day off of class. From my experience learning about Columbus I knew that he traveled the world in 1942 and discovered the western lands. From reading this article I found out his only interest in traveling west was in search of money and was willing to do anything to get it. Columbus was in the race to find land because the king of Spain set a reward for the first sailor to reach land. The sad thing was, one of Columbus’s sailors had the first sight of land and Columbus took credit of that. Upon his arrival on one of his many trips, he took a large amount of the Arawak people on board, basically kidnapping to find gold. On his second trip he had taken more Arawak people into captivity and brought back to Spain to be auctioned off for even more money. Growing up in America it’s amazing to see the information not given in our education, basically being hidden from us to hear. But instead we were lied about a figure in which we thought was a heroic person, but we were sadly mistaken.

  19. Almost every year from Kindergarten to senior year of high school I learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. and every year, I was taught just about the same thing. MLK was portrayed as the most important part of the civil rights movement because he was calm and wise. We never talked about much aside from the “I Have A Dream” speech and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

    In Alridge’s article, he mentions the three main ways that MLK is portrayed in textbooks and I can attest to this research. Alridge states that he is portrayed as a messiah, as the embodiment of the civil rights movement, and as a moderate. MLK is often put into the role of messiah in textbooks because of the fact that he was a reverend and the fact that he used a lot of biblical symbolism in his speeches. Most of the United States at that time was Christian, so this was a good method for him to take and a good method for textbooks to focus on. However, as Alridge states, this focus on MLK as a messiah distracts from the fact that he was a real person who developed into the leader that he was. The avoidance of this fact makes him far less relatable to the student who are learning about him. MLK is also seen as the embodiment of the civil right movement. Everything that I ever learned in school focused on him and only him. This silenced the other great leaders of the time and distracts from the “more radical and militant voices” of the time. Textbooks barely focus on other leaders such as Booker T. Washington and they do all that they can to distract from The Black Panthers and other more radical groups. Textbooks also lack a focus on female leaders during the civil rights movement in order to focus on MLK and his work. MLK is also very much portrayed as a moderate leader. While MLK definitely had many more radical views, textbooks also portray him as a calm leader who is very moderate and conservative in comparison to leaders such as Malcolm X. Alridge states that this portrayal allows MLK to be used as an example for causes that do not support his progressive views. MLK’s views on the Vietnam War and poverty are often ignored in textbooks to show him as a moderate leader.

    When school is based only on textbooks, students are only able to learn about what the textbooks are saying unless they go out and do research on their own (which barely any student ever actually does unless they are told to). Students lose major points of history when they are only taught from one source and that is a sad fact. Students are not told the whole truth and that causes them to only see one side. As Alridge states, it is important for teachers to move away from textbooks as their only source of information and also to focus on other important leaders as well as normal people who were alive at the time. If teacher do not do this, students grow up only knowing about one facet of information. Students will never be able to see all sides of the story and they will only ever see MLK as the sole leader of the civil rights movement. If we never move away from that basis, people will begin to forget about other important leaders entirely and the idea of MLK as a godlike, unrelatable character will be all they know.

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