Thursday, February 20, 2020

Debunking Knowing Better

Some time ago, a Youtuber who goes by the name of “Knowing Better” (KB) made a video defending Columbus from many of the revisions out there. Yet, he said in the same video that Columbus was neither good or bad. I was also intrigued about why the video was subtitled “An Exaggerated Evil,” which means it’s been exaggerated, but still evil. I sent KB two emails, but he never answered back. KB has now produced this new video where he explains why he still thinks Columbus Day or his statues should be replaced. He says, that has always been his position. Except that his explanations to justify his position are all wrong and historically incorrect. 

First, let’s look at his errors and then we will correct Columbus’ biography:

KB says Columbus was looking for Cipangu, but in reality, he was looking for the Indies, which included Cipangu (Japan), Cathay (China), the surrounding islands and continent. 7:30. KB says, Columbus did not come-up with this idea. Maybe he meant the idea of the existence of Cipangu, which is true. But the idea to reach the east by sailing west was his idea. Up to that time people reached the Indies by traveling by land or by circumnavigating the African continent, but not by crossing the Atlantic. People thought Columbus was insane because there was nothing but water between Europe and Asia. As for the Vikings, I’ll be posting about it soon.

KB also removes Columbus from his historical context when he says, Columbus assumed he was on “an island off the coast of Japan” when he reached America in 1492. 8:00. Except that it was not just Columbus, but EVERYONE else in the Old World that believed this. The people from the Old World did not know there was another continent on the other side of the globe.

KB claims Columbus kidnaped some Tainos so he could take them to Spain to teach them Latin. That is incorrect. It was Spanish and not Latin. 8:44. 

KB is correct that Columbus did not start the Transatlantic slave trade. However, “Americans being enslaved in America” did not start with Columbus as he claims or implies. Slavery was practiced before 1492 by the Indigenous people and it was practiced in every continent of the world as well. 8:50

KB is also incorrect when he implies Columbus’ second voyage was the beginning of the Encomienda system. 9:15. More on that below. 

Columbus was NOT a participant on the mistreatment of the natives and KB is wrong when he says that Columbus, as a governor, did not do anything to stop them. 9:50.

The King and Queen of Spain did NOT replace Columbus because of his inability to extract gold or the mistreatment of the colonists and natives. 9:55. That is false.

Columbus did not defend himself from child sex slavery after he was arrested and removed from office. There is not such a thing as this, anywhere, with Columbus.10:10.

Columbus was not directly responsible for the deaths of tens or 100’s of thousands and he neither killed millions with diseases. Plagues killing great numbers of people had happened before, during and after Columbus in both the Old and New World. It was more common than most people know. Right now the coronavirus is killing thousands of people in China. Is that Columbus’ fault too? The reason why revisionists are getting away with this one is that most Indigenous peoples in the Americas did not have a written language where we can see their record of epidemics. In addition, Columbus is not responsible for anyone’s poverty today.

The first thing to notice with KB, and many people who oppose Columbus, is that the natives are mostly absent. They are only present when Spanish slavery is brought into the conversation. This absence gives the impression that the natives were strangers to the concept of war, conquest, and slavery. But the fact is that the natives of America were doing what everyone else was doing everywhere in the world before 1492. That is, they were conquering or being conquered, enslaving or being enslaved by other tribes. 

It wasn’t uncommon for a weak nation to make a treaty with a stronger one to defeat a common enemy. Columbus himself made a treaty with a chief named Guacanagari, that he would defend the Tainos from the attacks of the Caribs. The Caribs were a tribe of Indigenous people who constantly invade the islands, raiding the Tainos, killing the men, castrating young boys, and raping the women. They commit the genocide of entire islands by killing and eating everyone since they were cannibals. The word “cannibal” is derived from the word “Carib” which is where we get the name of the Caribbean sea. Should we rename the Caribbean?

Columbus kept his word when he returned for his second voyage. He either saved the Tainos from the Caribs, destroyed their canoes to prevent them from more raids, or he would take them  and send them as “slaves” or prisoners to Spain. 

However, when Columbus returned to Hispaniola he found 39 men he left there with Guacanagari, dead. A rival chief named Caonabo, killed them all. For more than a year Columbus tried everything he could to keep the peace, but Caonabo kept more attempts for assassinations. Later, the Spaniards disobeyed Columbus’ orders to keep the peace while he was absent from Hispaniola exploring the Caribbean. These costed the lives of more Spaniards by other rival chiefs and Columbus was forced to stop the bloodshed by arresting some of them. Meanwhile, Columbus’ ally, Chief Guacanagari, asked Columbus to help him fight Caonabo because he and the other rival chiefs killed one of Guacanagari’s wives (the chiefs were polygamous) and kidnapped another. Columbus agreed since Caonabo kept harassing Columbus and killed more people. Columbus fought the chiefs, defeated them, sold some of them as slaves and made the rest to pay tribute. These were the norm during war back then, and the natives used to do the same. Do you see how much of the story was left?

Though Columbus and Spain saw the Tainos of Hispaniola as their allies, the queen reluctantly allowed Columbus to temporarily enslave only those who would engage in war against him until he obtained peace. What most people don’t know is that by the end of Columbus’ governorship, slavery was suspended. In the meantime, and contrary to what KB says, Columbus, as governor, punished any Spaniard who mistreated the natives as told by the queen herself. She is the one who authorized him to do so and he did.

During these times, a mutineer named Roldan usurped Columbus’ power and sent false reports to Spain that Columbus was mistreating colonists and natives alike. It was Roldan who, against Columbus’ policies, started the Repartimientos that later evolved into the Encomiendas. Columbus, as a wise leader, knew the Spaniards disliked that they were ruled and punished by a foreigner. At least that was their excuse. That’s why he requested Spain to send judges who could deal and sentence other Spaniards without the prejudice that they were sentenced by a foreigner. Columbus also asked for military help so that Roldan’s rebellion could be contained, but apparently these letters never reached the queen on time.

In the meantime, the queen sent a man named Bobadilla to investigate the false reports made by the rebels and see what was going on in Hispaniola. However, Bobadilla arrested Columbus first and asked questions later. He took the false testimonies of the rebels as “evidence,” and illegally took the governorship of the island to himself. This is where the allegations that “Columbus was a horrible man” came from, and those allegations were false. Bobadilla put Columbus and his brothers in chains without due process, not even telling him why they were arrested. This was a political coup. Primary Source: The Life of the Admiral by Ferdinand Columbus, chapters 34-85.

As Columbus was sent to Spain in chains, he wrote a letter to a friend named Juan de las Torres complaining of everything stated above, and even more, of what had happened to him. He felt unappreciated after all he, as a foreigner, had done for Spain. It is this letter where revisionists, and now KB, claim Columbus admitted children were sold for sex or as sex slaves; except, the letter says nothing of the sort. This allegation is the most fantastic of all and the most stupid of the claims made by modern-day propagandists. Knowing Better should know better. All you need to do is to read the full letter. Primary Source: Writings of Christopher Columbus, Letter to Juana de las Torres, pp. 151-176

Are you telling me that Columbus incriminated himself of selling children for sex to a woman (Juana de las Torres) who was a mother and a friend of the queen? Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? The closest thing I’ve seen about pedophilia was when Columbus was exploring the continent, when the natives sent two young girls, for free, for sex. One was 7 and the other 11 years old. Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day! Columbus was upset about the situation and said the girls were acting like whores. In turn, Columbus fed them, gave them gifts and returned them to their people. If he was a pedophile, why would he be upset? Primary Source: Columbus's Lettera Rarissima to the Sovereigns, Journal and Other Documents by Morison, page 381.

When Columbus arrived in Spain, he was immediately released because the king and queen did not believe the accusations. They compensated Columbus, they sent him letters of encouragement and in their own way apologized to him, lamenting to ever send Bobadilla. In return, they promised Columbus his titles, slavery was suspended, Bobadilla was removed from office and Roldan and his rebels were sentence for mutiny. Primary Source: The Life of the Admiral by Ferdinand Columbus, chapters 86-87.

Columbus made one more voyage, his fourth and last, to the continent. While he was busy exploring, the new governor of Hispaniola, Nicolas de Ovando, did not inform the natives that their slavery was suspended. It was him who implemented the Encomiendas and committed all sorts of atrocities until most of the natives died. Primary Source: History of the Indies by Las Casas, pp. 109-110. 

After Columbus returned to Hispaniola from Jamaica, he was informed about the atrocities and reported them to the king and queen. Primary Source: Historia de las Indias by Las Casas, Tomo III, Lib. II, Cap. XXXVII, p. 190.

So how can Columbus be responsible for abuses he did not commit? Why did he report the abuses if he was a participant? Why would he severely punish the Spaniards (as told by the queen) if his administration was in favor of their mistreatment? Sounds more like he was the hero and not the fictional villain revisionists claim he was! 

KB ended his video by saying, “get rid of Columbus Day.” My question to him is, “why,” if Columbus did not do any of the things he claimed in his video? And why replace Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples’ Day? If we should not celebrate Columbus Day because of war, conquest, and slavery, then by the same reasoning we should not celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day either, because they did the same and worst. If Columbus Day represents colonial abuses, which he did not commit, then Indigenous Peoples’ Day represented cannibalism and human sacrifices which they did commit.