Columbus Day Gone By

It occurred to me today, well... yesterday now, I've stayed up passed midnight so it feels like today. Anyway, it occurred to me that we have rapidly reached the end of an era, a moment as important as Christopher Columbus discovering the New World forever dispelling the absurd notion of a flat Earth floating on a plane created by God for European domination and replaced it with a globe created by God for European domination. A parade of facebook status confirmed that our collective consciousness is now willing to admit that celebrating Christopher Columbus is akin to celebrating the Spanish Inquisition which started in 1489 but doesn't have a clever rhyme so it's easy to forget how incredibly linked those two events are. In either case, it seems we're finally doing something about the obvious injustice of celebrating a person that we'd execute for crimes against humanity. However, I'm leery of this rapid social progress because I know there are people quietly lining up to defend Columbus as soon as liberals aren't around in the same ways that Black people who are executed by white police officers are still slandered as criminals behind closed doors.

It took over five hundred years for this momentous acknowledgement that the Euro-centric conquest of the Americas was unequivocally evil and worthy of derision, but the scary truth is that it took two thousand years before people were willing to accept that the earth was round. An Egyptian Librarian from Greece calculated the diameter of the planet in the third century BCE. In educated circles, it was settled from then on, but for the rest of the people it took Columbus sailing -- not all the way around the globe -- but half way before they accepted that the world was round, which to be fair was still close enough to name a baseball team the Indians four hundred years later despite the fact that we'd known that the Native Americans we met were not from India at least three hundred years previous. It's like they were younger brother of that guy you know when you're fifteen that you keep calling Mike (the older brother's name) when his name is clearly Steve just because it makes him mad and you enjoy being powerful enough that he won't say anything. The only difference is that we just took five hundred years to turn seventeen and realize that being a dick isn't cool, and there are still a large percentage of people that seem like they'll actively resist the realization of how uncool they've been.

Two thousand years. That's how long it took for people to admit the world wasn't a floating plane with water falling off the edges and sea monsters. Why should we believe that this moment of social clarity will stick around when there isn't something equivalent to a guy sailing to someplace that might as well be India filled with people that might as well be called Indians? I mean, we still have a baseball team called The Indians and a football team called The Redskins. Seems like maybe especially if they change the names of those teams there will be blow back akin to Southerners continued thoughts of secession and winning the war. I guess the hope is that it'll continue to become more and more marginalized like the KKK and Neo-Nazis. Unfortunately, the reality of this type of racism is that it doesn't appear to be overtly problematic and evil when compared to the incredible injustices in our past, and it's no longer the KKK supporting something that is racist. It's regular people who don't believe they are racist and without a Columbus moment to cement in their minds the dangers of their racism, they're unlikely to be willing to admit that it needs to go so two thousand years might be the amount of time needed. Two thousand years.