Columbus singlehandedly exterminated an an entire race – Frank Rowe

The best account is the transcription of Bartolome de Las Casas, who was Columbus’s chaplain. Columbus’s first observation of the Tainos was that they wore nothing but gold ornaments, had no weapons, were ‘handsome and intelligent, and would make excellent slaves.’ Columbus had three small boats full of thugs with dogs, armor and guns as well as other weapons, like smallpox, available at the now-ending Renaissance. West Indies Tainos, also known as Arawak and Caribs, were now held to ransom in their own country, starting about 1492. Any native who failed to provide a certain quantity of gold, or failed to display a token signifying such, would suffer amputation or the killing of a child.

Anyone who finds it difficult to believe the possibility of such a thing should check out the twentieth century history of Belgium’s ‘Rubber Terror,’ in which Congo farmers who failed to meet Leopold II’s daily quotas of Rubber, coffee or ivory, would suffer the same fates, documented by many photographs. Don’t take my word for it, you can read all this for yourself.

Queen Isabella, Columbus’s sponsor, said that she was pleased with the revenue, but would have preferred to have had the Taino as taxpaying Spanish citizens. Instead, Columbus opened the floodgates to a horde of Spanish speculators who became Encomiendas, or land speculators, who received possession of the Taino inhabitants of the West Indies in serfdom, with the same rules.

The Taino couldn’t even run away, as the Spaniards brought the dogs, previously unknown in the Americas,(in our hunting hound form) and Taino who tried to flee to the mountains were tracked down. Bartolome de Las Casas, who started out as Columbus’s chaplain, became a champion for the Taino, and worked all his life to ease their lot. In his journal is the statement that he estimated that 400,000 Taino were eventually killed under the Columbian system in his lifetime, and that it was his duty to record this, as one day such things would no longer be believed.

Go hug a Taino, if you can find one! BTW, you may find that difficult, although they are struggling for their national identity. Under Spanish law, they were all reclassified as ‘Negros’ in Spanish census documents, about 1800. But, as I say, don’t take my word for it. This is all documented and available to you, no matter whose descendant you may be.

The hardest part to absorb, is that my white ancestors didn’t see anything wrong with that, in a (kind of) liberal northern American city like New York. We embraced the notion that it was wrong, but were not above exploiting that wrongness to our own interest. Malcolm X say’s, “I’ll take a Klansman out in the open, any time, over a ‘liberal’ who does the same thing.’ Or, words to that effect. If he were alive, we might have elected him!

Credit: Frank Rowe

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