Monday, July 23, 2018

Snopes and Columbus

I'm not one of those guys who oppose Snopes or Wikipedia. When they are right, they are right. However, when they are wrong, they are wrong; and Snopes is wrong with this one.

In an article titled "Did Christopher Columbus Seize, Sell, and Export Sex Slaves?" Snopes claims it is true. )

Unfortunately for them, ALL the article claims are false. They really made a poor investigating job: 

They used Howard Zinn as a "source," even though he was not a primary historical source, but just a revisionist from the 20th century. 

They also used  "A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies" by Las Casas even though the book is about events that happened AFTER Columbus was out of Office.

They quoted selected portions of a letter Columbus sent to Luis de Santangel ( to insinuate Columbus was looking down on the Tainos and considering them as good candidates for slavery. If anyone takes the time to read the letter in its entirety will see Columbus praising the Tainos in spite of their timidity and nakedness. He also forbade the Spaniards to rip the natives off by trading broken platters and broken glasses with them (page 13).

As for the quoted "Their Highnesses may see that I shall give them... slaves as many as they shall order to be shipped" (from the same letter above, page 17), Snopes skipped the next line that says "and these shall be from the idolaters." Columbus said the Tainos knew "no idolatry" (page 13), and he believed they were good and intelligent enough to become Christians. In addition, he considered them as part of the Spanish Kingdom (Source: Columbus' Journal, Sunday 16, December 1492). Spanish law forbade the enslavement of Spanish subjects and Christians, unless they were criminals or war enemies. It's clear he is not talking about the timid Tainos, but the Caribs, who were cannibals (which is what that word means), who were terrorizing, kidnapping, enslaving, raping, castrating and killing Tainos. I wonder why Snopes did not mention that detail!? 

Columbus ended the First Voyage in peaceful terms with them and promised his ally, Chief Guacanagari, he would get rid of the Caribs. The 1494 "Memorial letter to Antonio de Torres" specified all this too. Columbus later was forced to fight in self-defense against some war-like tribes in La Hispaniola. Since they were enemy combatants, he was allowed to sell them as slaves too. That was the custom back them during war. Slavery was a universal custom back then and it was practiced by natives too.

As for the letter Columbus wrote to Juana de las Torres, is clear they did not read it either. The letter says nothing about any child sex slavery ring. 

In that letter, Columbus was complaining against the Spaniards and their abuses toward the natives, which was against his orders and the wishes of the Queen of Spain. Columbus was removed from Office (as Governor) due to sedition and slander by the Spaniards. He was immediately released when he arrived in Spain precisely because he was innocent. The rebels were sentenced to prison and the "investigator" who put him in jail without cause and due process, was removed from his post too. (Source "The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus by his son Ferdinand" Chapters 74-87).

I will give the benefit of the doubt that Snopes is just repeating the garbage that many (revisionists) are repeating out there. That is, "Columbus was a villain." That is a lie, and repeating a lie many times won't make the lie to be true.

"Did Christopher Columbus Seize, Sell, and Export Sex Slaves?"

The answer is: NO!



  1. So glad to find someone else talking about this! I wrote about this same thing on my blog last year (only not about Snopes but about an earlier Huffington Post article--I thought Snopes was quoting it there because it's almost word for word in places, but maybe they are both quoting Zinn?) Anyways, I'd love it if you would read my post and let me know what you obviously know a lot about this history and I'd appreciate your input.

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  2. I am glad to stumble on this site. Slime like Howard Zinn have done a lot of damage to American and European history and the weak-minded, eager to hate something, eat it up like candy