Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Responding to the Washington Post

The Washington Post wrote an article titled "Columbus brought measles to the New World. It was a disaster for Native Americans."

 My response? The article is ridiculous! First of all, diseases existed before Columbus, during Columbus, and after Columbus, both in the Old and the New World. Second, COLUMBUS did not bring measles into the New World since he himself did not carry that disease. Third, the claim that there were no epidemic diseases in the New World before Columbus arrived is based on pure speculation. 

The natives themselves believed their gods (and goddesses) put sickness on them. Among the sicknesses they experienced before any European contact was scabies, hemorrhoids, pustule, boil, eye sickness, gout, paralysis, stiffness, mumps, dropsy, leprosy, syphilis (one of their gods had syphilis too), other (unspecified) sexually transmitted diseases, other (unspecified) contagious diseases, other (unspecified) incurable diseases, etc. Some of the diseases mentioned above are viral or bacterial, debunking the article’s premise. [1] 

The Post states that the “Indigenous peoples suffered from white brutality, alcoholism, the killing and driving off of game,” etc. ignoring the fact that the natives were destroying one another long before Columbus arrived. The Caribs depopulated entire islands in the Caribbean through raids for cannibalistic purposes, while South American natives were sacrificing thousands upon thousands of their own people to their gods. Does that count as genocide? [2]

As for alcoholism, the Aztecs worshiped “Tezcatzoncatl,” who was the god of wine or “pulque.”  The natives would get intoxicated with this drink and would kill themselves or kill others. One was not allowed to criticize the effects of the drink, because they attributed the consequences of it to the possession of the god itself, and not to the drunkenness of the individual. Murmuring against this wine was a sign of bad luck to the murmurer. [3] 

The Post also says that “we may never know the exact magnitudes of the depopulation,” but “it is estimated that upwards of 80–95 percent of the Native American population was decimated within the first 100–150 years following 1492.” First, they claim they don’t know, but then they throw out numbers. Secondly, Columbus died 14 years after his discovery, in 1492, and he was not “decimating” anyone anyway. How can he be responsible for things that he did not commit, or things that happened when he was no longer present? 

This business of percentages is also disingenuous. It wasn’t 80 % (more or less) of every native tribe of North, Central, South America, and the Caribbean who died due to epidemics; but rather 80 % (more or less) of natives who died in specific locations, in a specific year. One example is Mexico, where a great percentage of people died of smallpox in 1520, which by the way, was introduced by a black man. [4] 

Before Columbus, epidemics killed 30% of the populations of Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa, from 165 to 180 AD. It killed 40% of the populations of Europe, Egypt, and West Asia, from 541 to 542 (25 to 50 millions of people). It killed 30 to 60% of populations of Europe, Asia, and North Africa, with the Black Death, from 1346 to 1350 (75 to 200 millions of people). After Columbus’ death, epidemics kept killing people in every continent of the world. In other words, epidemics have been common throughout history. 

Trying to blame everything on Columbus is not just ignorant but plain stupid.

1. Historia by Sahagun.
2. De Orbe Novo by Martyr (or any historian of the era).
3. Historia by Sahagun tomo 1, p 40.
4. Historia by Sahagun, tomo 4, p 245.

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