Do you believe that kidnapping the bodies of Native Americans is wrong? Then why do you celebrate Columbus Day?
Do you believe that it is wrong for persons to be judged by the color of their skin ? Then why do you celebrate Columbus Day?
Do you think it was okay for Native Americans to have their noses nailed to doors or sold into slavery? Then why do you celebrate Columbus Day?
Do you find it a good thing that a person endorses the sexual exploitation of Native American women? Then why do you celebrate Columbus Day?
Do not take my word for it; Christopher Columbus happily admits most of these in his letters.
The disease of hero-worship infects the way in which many Americans understand history. We are taught from an early age not to question our teachers or their propositions. This all makes the education system compliant in the subordination of colonial subjects; rather than face the truth of our violent histories, confess our sins, and work for reconciliation, we remain indignant in our depravity and continue to work towards the expansion of our own human empires, glorifying a particular view of human power, reason, experience, and wealth over all others.
Whenever I say a critical word about traditional heroes such as those from the Protestant Reformation, I am blasted for being ignorant or anti-intellectual as if second-hand knowledge is inferior and as if first-hand knowledge of the original language is superior to all other forms of knowledge as if there exists some hierarchy of knowledge. Reading people in their original language and then defending them as such does not justify MASS MURDER AND RAPE! Their words DO NOT justify their actions. These same group of people which they know who they are constantly bow down at the altars of killers such Ulrych Zwingli are the same folks who discount anything that people of color have done or said or written; for example, they are usually the ones who say that Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work should be discredited because he is an adulterer. It is a complete double-standard.
To say that I am not taking these people in their historical context is ridiculous. That argument just falls into moral relativism and presupposes that we have already have a full, objective grasp of what their historical context was. This still does not excuse people’s activities. If Christians believe God came to Earth, and gave us real ordinances to follow, such as the Golden Rule or the Royal Law (Love God with everything we have and love our neighbors as ourselves), and people who claim to be Christians act contrary to it, saints have every right to condemn and resist those actions. I am not perfect; far from it, but I will not stand idly by while the Church remains caught up in it European idol worship of Christopher Columbus, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Ulrych Zwingli, among others. Yes these men did contribute good things, but from an early age, we are not told a fuller rendering of the truth, rather, a very selective one in the name of hero worship. Half-truths only lead us into living lies, and continuing to participate in systems of oppression.
Instead of siding with those who uphold the histories of oppression in a positive light, maybe we should consider perhaps listening to those who have suffered on the underside of imperial histories, like the Native Americans. In 1968, Governor Ronald Reagan commemorated Native American Day in California to held the fourth Friday in September. Given Reagan’s ambiguous history in fighting for human freedom, we can at least recognize his effort in his endeavor. Maybe this could serve as an example for efforts toward truth and reconciliation, where we side with the oppressed.
As Jesus said, the Truth will set you free.