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In recent years, a topic of much controversy has been the circumstances of our own American colonization. The mistreatment, capture and killing of Native Americans during the Columbian Exchange has turned the perspective of many from an event of major importance to an event of major disaster. The Columbus Day holiday itself isn’t even recognized by some states anymore. Columbus certainly wasn’t a hero and should be viewed poorly for his part in the genocide of the Native American people. However, the holiday must still be celebrated, as the Columbian Exchange itself was an essential piece of our history.
Columbus Day should be celebrated purely because of the impact it had on our lives and the modern world. According to Crosby’s “The Columbian Exchange”, the continental drift that split the Old and New World’s apart was reversed by the exchange of plants, animals, etc. that were once divided. Without it, Europe’s crops like wheat would not have made it to America, and America’s crops like maize would not be seen in Europe. This exchange is one of the most crucial events in American and European history, and to ignore it would be a disgrace to our own country’s story.
The main argument against the holiday is that the consequences of the Exchange with Native Americans are too awful to be in a celebration. This argument is wrong because of two points, the first one being our history is simply full of bloodshed. Schweikart and Allen’s “A Patriot’s History” states “the number [of Native Americans dead] is closer to 800,000”. 800,000 is a horrifying number, but it’s miniscule in comparison to other parts of American history. Over 60 million people in the world died as a result of WWII, but no one is saying we should ignore the war or not be proud of our efforts. Columbus wasn’t a great guy, but the holiday isn’t about him. It’s about what he started for the world.
The second point against the Native American argument is that the consequences of the Columbian Exchange were inevitable with globalization anyway. Crosby’s “Columbian Exchange” states “The history of the United States begins… with epidemics of unidentified disease”. The death of the Native Americans due to disease was uncontrollable and outweighed any other fatality in the Exchange. Connecting Europeans to America was a necessary move for us, so the Native Americans would have eventually suffered the diseases they did anyway. The consequences were inevitable; why should the holiday be ignored?
Due to it’s impact on America and the world as a whole, Columbus Day should remain a celebrated holiday, but Columbus himself shouldn’t remain a celebrated man. Our heritage is what’s being celebrated on the day, not anything else. The ends should be celebrated in our advancements as a country, not the means. Of course Columbus and his fellow colonists didn’t do great things. They were greedy and manipulative to get what they wanted. But, the results of his voyage are of too much importance to be not celebrated, let alone ignored. Let us cherish the holiday, and look down upon the man.
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