Columbus: Hero or Villain?

Dana Sung, Staff Writer

From Scholastic Books to holidays, Christopher Columbus is painted as a hero in our society. But the standing question is if he truly was the courageous, fearless, brave traveler that we paint him to be, or if he was just one of the winners that was depicted in a false sense of laud in our history. Christopher Columbus is the ambiguous line between a hero and a villain. His every actions, discoveries, and crimes is up for debate as we once again assess the history of the famous rhyme; in 1942, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Christopher Columbus is not a hero, but merely a victor of history.

First, it is important to note that Christopher Columbus never actually discovered what is called United States today. He did not step foot on the North American continent. On Oct. 12, 1942, he arrived on the shore of the Bahamas and further explored the Central and South American continent. His ‘exploration,’ or ‘discovery,’ is way overrated in our culture. If we really wanted to give credit to someone who ‘discovered,’ or exposed an already inhabited land to the eurocentric part of history, North America, we should acknowledge the Spanish explorer, Cabeza de Vaca instead.

The phrase, history is written by the victors, is evidentially favorable of Christopher Columbus. Whether you despise Columbus or not, one has to admit that he was ultimately a winner. After his voyages to America’s, enslavement of the natives, and stealing gold and silver, he lived the rest of his life with substantial revenue until he died in his estate in 1506. And in this eurocentric history that is dictated by American and European society, it is easy to depict him as a valiant hero who helped ‘innocent’ and ‘naive’ of Native Americans to open up to the Western world.

History is romanticized. When someone is made an icon, a hero, a symbol in history, their endeavors are idealized while their corruptions are overlooked. Christopher Columbus is a cultural symbol that stands for entrepreneurship and risk takers, but he also stands for corruption, injustice and violence.