GOVERNOR CUOMO, DEFENDING CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS DEFENDS THE WORST EMBODIMENT OF "UGLY ITALIAN STEREOTYPES"

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[Black Star Editorial\The Genocidal Legacy of Columbus]
In one entry, Las Casas talks about the legacy of cruelty that was unleashed by Columbus saying, the “killing, terrorizing, afflicting, torturing, and destroying the Native peoples, doing all this with the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty, never seen or heard of before, and to such a degree that this Island of Hispaniola, once so populous (having a population that I estimated to be more than three million, has now a population of barely two hundred persons…In truth, I believe that the number of the slain is more like fifteen million.”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Columbus, the greedy genocidal murder, is by no measure a figure that should be venerated by anyone, including Italians.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is receiving criticism for using the racial slur “nigger wop,” which he repeated on the Alan Chartock radio show, on WAMC in Albany, while quoting it from a published New York Times story.

Within the context of the discussion, Governor Cuomo’s recited the term in an attempt to highlight the racism Italian-Americas have also faced in America. During the interview, he denounced racist stereotypes saying he has “zero tolerance” for discrimination.

On the show, Governor Cuomo made important points against stereotyping anyone, including Italian-Americans, like himself. At one point, Mr. Cuomo correctly said: “all discrimination is bad.” Several of his arguments have legitimacy. Sadly, the Governor erred—and undercut his own arguments—by advancing an unconvincing rationale for the continued use of Christopher Columbus as a positive symbolic icon for Italian-Americans.

He stated that Columbus Day represents a “broader symbolism” for Italian-Americans. He insinuated that attacking the Columbus Day holiday is perceived negatively in the larger Italian community. That may be true. But isn’t this an unfortunate consequence of the white-washed history and lies that have been told for centuries about Columbus?

Shouldn’t any race demanding respect be very careful about who they idolize as representatives of their kind? Why promote the pathological criminal exploits of a murderer, rapist, and robber? Italians have many noteworthy historical figures like Galileo, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, the poet Dante, the poet Virgil, etc. that have made their mark.

Columbus isn’t needed—and should be rejected.

How can Governor Cuomo argue against the negative stereotypes that follow Italian-Americans and still defend the legacy of a greedy, genocidal, mass murderer like Christopher Columbus whose actions unleashed an orgy of violence in the Americas?

In complaining about the damaging stereotypes Italian-Americans have faced, the Governor talked about “ugly Italian stereotypes,” like being likened to “thugs”, and “gangsters.” He referenced the fact that his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo, was portrayed as “Don Corleone,” in the newspapers, and his family as an “organized crime” mafia family.

It goes without saying that White racist stereotypes seeking to generalize negative attributes to non-White people are simply the baseless bigotry of weak people. The prejudice Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, Greeks and Jews, suffered, especially, before they were strategically accepted into the club of “whiteness” should be denounced.

However, given Governor Cuomo’s complains about the racist stereotypes Italian-Americans still face, it’s baffling that he can’t bring himself to admit that Columbus is a bad personality for Italians to pay homage to. If Italians are going to venerate such a monster they might as well praise former Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini too. Does the Governor still not know just how bad of an actor Columbus really was?

During the radio interview, the Governor talked about the “bad acts” and “flaws” of Columbus. “Bad acts” and “flaws” are inadequate, antiseptic language to describe a man who is singularly responsible for one of the greatest genocides ever in world history.

The late great Professor Howard Zinn is one of the important historians who has helped fill in the other half of the Columbus story that details the ugly crimes of this butcherer and enslaver of Native-Americans.

In his great work, "Voices of a People’s History of the United States,” Dr. Zinn makes the following statement regarding Columbus “what is missing from that story is that when he landed in the Bahamas Islands, Columbus and his men, greeted by peaceful and generous natives, set out on a ruthless quest for gold that led to enslavement, misery, and death for that population.”

Professor Zinn points to Columbus’ murderous opportunism saying, “Seeing the natives he encountered, the peaceful Taino Arawak Indians as less than human (though in his diary he describes them as gentle and generous) he tortured them to force them to find gold for him. He kidnapped and enslaved hundreds of them, compelling them to work in the mines, under terrible conditions in the quest for gold. It was the beginning of the annihilation of the Indians on Hispaniola (the island which is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic). It was the start of the European conquest of the Western Hemisphere.”

Professor Zinn also illustrated the violence that was ushered into the so-called “New World” by Columbus, even using Columbus’ own diary notes to convict him of his criminality. Zinn used first-hand witnesses, like Bartolome de Las Casas, a contemporary of Columbus, to document the savagery that Columbus’ entry into the Western Hemisphere caused.

In one entry, Las Casas talks about the legacy of cruelty that was unleashed by Columbus saying, the “killing, terrorizing, afflicting, torturing, and destroying the Native peoples, doing all this with the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty, never seen or heard of before, and to such a degree that this Island of Hispaniola, once so populous (having a population that I estimated to be more than three million, has now a population of barely two hundred persons…More than thirty other islands in the vicinity of San Juan are for the most part and for the same reason depopulated, and the land laid waste. On these islands I estimate there are 2,100 leagues of land that have been ruined and depopulated, empty of people…In truth, I believe that the number of the slain is more like fifteen million.”

In another entry, Las Casas gives a disturbing account of a slaughter saying, “They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house. They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill our his entails with the single stroke of a pike. They took infants from their mothers’ breasts, snatching them by their legs and pitching them headfirst against the crags or snatching them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, ‘Boil there you offspring of the devil!’ Other infants they put to the sword along with their mothers and anyone else who happened to be nearby.”

This is the ugly reality of the Columbus story that Italian-Americans must now reconsider.

Governor Cuomo must realize, at this late date, that Columbus’ legacy is central to the suffering that many non-White people, who aren't Italians, have endured—and still do to the present. The Governor must understand by continuing to embrace Christopher Columbus he is embracing somebody who embodies many of the anti-Italian stereotypes he was complaining about.

Columbus was the worst thing that ever happened to the Western Hemisphere. He is a symbol of depraved mass murder, rape and rapacious plunder. That is Columbus' legacy—which continues with the contemporary suffering of those whose fore-parents were victims of the genocide that came with the coming of Columbus.

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