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Columbus: Hero or Imposter

In her essay, “The Statue of Columbus should be removed from The Bahamas”, Sheanda Glinton argues that “Murder, cruelty, inhumanity, and a false legacy is what Columbus unleashed and as such his statue should be removed from the Bahamas.” Glinton also argue that Columbus did not discover the islands or the Bahamas; in fact they were already inhabited by the Tainos. In her essay, she describes the Tainos as primitive, but happy people. This was true until Columbus arrived and decided that they would make great slaves, as well as laborers for him and his cohorts. Throughout her essay, Glinton speaks about the malevolent and atrocious treatment to the aboriginal people of the Bahamas brought on by Columbus and his Spanish legion, in pursuit to enslave them as well as convert them to Christianity. Glinton strongly believes that the only thing Columbus should be considered a hero for is his success in bringing destruction to the Bahamas as well as its people. In actuality, is of no positive asset to the Bahamian race, thus he should not be applauded as a hero, and his statue should be removed.

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Glinton begins her argument with a bit of history as to how Columbus since1942 has been highly praised as being the discoverer of The New World upon his landing on Guanahani, which he gave the name San Salvador. However, Glinton disagrees with this because “Columbus did not discover a new world” but came into “contact between two worlds already old”. Glinton also gives evidence as to how Columbus, in his journals, wrote of other inhabitants on the island, and how because of their intelligence, but timid and unwarlike nature would make it easy for him to convert them into slaves with little to no force at all. She continues by stating that in all of Columbus and Spanish teachings of “religion and civility to the Indians”, greed was their most prominent interest.

Glinton describes Columbus as greedy because when he saw that the Indians wore gold jewelry, he sought out a quest of how he can use them to mine the gold and take the gold back to his country to pass them as his own discovery. She also describes him as vain because he thought that “he was above manual labor and forcing others to mine gold for him suggest that he should not be lauded as a hero and a discoverer.”

However, Glinton sees this as a minor reason as to why Columbus’ statue should be removed from the Bahamas. She continues her argument stating that Columbus and the Spanish colonists whom he brought were responsible for the obliteration of the entire race of Tainos that once peacefully inhabited the Bahamas. Glinton supports this claim with facts about the Tainos being taken out of the Bahamas and exported to Hispaniola. Consequently, when Columbus learned that gold was in Hispaniola, the Tainos were all wiped out of the country. “Their slaughter began in 1494 when Columbus brought 400 armed men into the interior.” The writer continues to give reference to Columbus’ journal entries as well as historical facts to support her claim as to why the statue of Columbus should be removed from the Bahamas. She speaks of the cruel treatment brought on the Tainos by Columbus and his crew, how they were forced to dive for pearls for hours without time to catch their breath. In many instances some of the Tainos never returned back to the surface because they couldn’t catch their breaths in time, or they were eaten whole by man eating sharks. This cruel and inhumane treatment led to many of the inhabitants taking their own lives. Glinton continues that if the Tainos tried to fight back, they were hunted down by dogs, “crucified and whipped violently.” She also speaks of how the Tainos were forced into Christianity and tried to justify their reasons for the ill treatment bestowed upon the Tainos.

Furthermore, Glinton made a vague comment, however, in paragraph 10 of her essay when she stated that “…no true believer of Christ would use the means that the Spanish implemented to convert the Indians.” This statement is vague because no one knows who a “true believer” is; we only assume that our own religion is the “true” religion. Thus a true believer cannot be defined factual, only by our own personal opinions, which is not effective enough to be proven. Glinton was also bias in this paragraph when she stated that, “What cannot be accomplished …. and good examples of Christianity is a lost cause.” She shows biases here because she only gives recognition to Christianity, and no other religion. She also made the accusation that if situations are not dealt with examples of Christianity, then as she states’ “it is a lost cause.”

Moreover, Glinton ends her argument with three rebuttal paragraphs (12, 13 and 14). In paragraph 12 she acknowledges that some people have argued that “Columbus had indeed discover a new world.” She then refutes this by saying that the island had already been inhabited, then she inserts a rhetorical question built on facts into her rebuttal, “possession is nine tenths of the law, is it not?” which was the first time she actually gave recognition to her audience (i.e. get them involved). In paragraph 13 she gives rise to how some may say that Columbus was not to blame for the atrocious treatment of the Tainos because, he left his brother in charge while he went back to Spain to tell of his discovery. Glinton disagrees with this because, she believes that if this were true then why was Columbus and his brother deported back to Spain in chains because of the disgust of a government official when he saw how cruel the Tainos were being treated.(she supports this claim with facts from Rouse, 1992,pp. 149-150). She also states that Columbus should still be held responsible because if he was leader, then whatever he had told the Spaniards they would have obeyed. However, because he was leader, he should be held responsible. Glinton continues that some may think of the Indians as “uncivilized, savage and primitive people” and that the need of a “little force was justified”. The writer refutes this by stating again about the journal entries of Columbus and his crew of how they said the Tainos were peaceful people and of the cruel treatment perpetrated against the Indians. She continues by saying how the Tainos were civilized because they had already had a political organization with a leader. Glinton also talks about the religious belief of the Tainos and how even though it was not Christianity, she believes that “each individual has the right to choose his/her own path to religious beliefs.”

However, Glinton contradicts herself by saying this because in paragraph 10 she said that “What cannot be accomplished …. and good examples of Christianity is a lost cause.” Now she is saying that it is okay to be of another religion.

Glinton used a few figurative devices in her essay. Besides a rhetorical question in paragraph 12, she uses sarcasm as well as humor in paragraph 3 when she stated that, “Columbus must have felt that God was smiling upon him, in that he found a new land and saw that gold was present.” An understatement was also made in paragraph14 which stated that “little force was justified”, because the force laid upon the Tainos was not “little” it was cruel, inhumane and caused a lot of deaths and should not be referred to as “little” Glinton also uses a simile in paragraph 15 “the Spaniards fell as tigers, wolves and lions fall on kids” this statement is also verbally ironic because kids can be interpreted as children or baby goats. Comparison was also made in this final paragraph when the Spaniards and Columbus were compared to animals. The writer uses a cynical tone throughout her entire essay.

Sheanda Glinton’s essay which includes valuable facts raises question as to why Columbus’ statue is posted in the Bahamas as a discoverer or some hero if he himself wrote in his journals that he met people here. It makes persons start to wonder what the real reason for his recognition is. Why history books still refer to him as the discoverer? And why is it that the real reason is not justified to people who still believe that Columbus really did discover the Bahamas? Maybe it was a signed contract that the leader of the Tainos made in order for the Spaniards to free them. Since it is crystal clear that the real reason cannot be because he discovered the Bahamas, then what the real reason… is another case for Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys…