Passing by New York City’s Columbus Circle on these December days, I remember what the real Christopher Columbus described in his journal during his own December days:
Sunday 16 December, 1492
“Believe me, Your Highnesses, that these lands are so good and
so fertile […]
that there is no one who could describe them,
and no one could believe it unless they saw it.
Be sure that this island and all the others are as much your own
as is Castile,
for all that is needed here is a seat of government
and to command them to do what you wish, for I with these
people I have with me,
who are not many, could travel throughout these islands
and I have seen three of these sailors go ashore alone where
there was a crowd of these Indians, and they have all run off.
They have no weapons and are all naked and with no experience
of arms and very timid,
so that a thousand of them would not stand up to three of us,
and so they are suitable to take orders and be made to work, sow
and do anything else that may be needed”
It never ceases to surprise me how in New York City, a part of the world where persons of so many diverse backgrounds, cultures, races pass by and peacefully meet, there is a place and a market (yes, a market!) named after the person who wrote this.
How is this honor given to a man who acts as a despot: “Would like to take some of them back”,
as a monster: “Saw five men, but they would not wait and took flight”,
as an oppressor: “They will fear the Christians, because without doubt those people are evil-doers”,
and as a thief: “Please God that I find a good supply of gold to barter before I return?”
Yes, it’s Christopher Columbus who we are reminded of when passing by Columbus Circle, where some good Christmas shopping takes place.
“For here and in all the other places I have discovered and hope
to discover before I return
that the whole of Christendom will come to do business to which
all must be subject.
And I say that Your Highnesses must not allow any foreigner to
trade or set foot here
unless he be a Catholic Christian, for this was the end and the
beginning of the enterprise,
that it should be for the promotion and glory of the Christian
and no one who is not a good Christian should come to these