Tag Archives: History

Christopher Columbus: hero or villain?

Every year on Columbus Day we always have to hear stories about “the real” Christopher Columbus, about how he was a total jerk. Yes, he sailed to the new world and, yes, apparently he killed a lot of natives. But that was so long ago, and the history is always evolving. Isn’t it a little shortsighted of us to close the book on Columbus? Maybe he wasn’t the evil villain character so popular with modern historians. Maybe he was a hero.


I’m just saying, what if Columbus sailed to America, and he found the population enslaved by a race of evil aliens? I wasn’t around back then, so I can only rely on my imagination here, but could there have been? Can you definitely say that the new continent wasn’t overrun by alien warlords?

If it was, and just hear me out here, if Christopher Columbus sailed all the way to America, only to find the local inhabitants hopelessly enslaved by a group of otherworldly terrorists, and, lets say that Columbus wasn’t a dick, but was actually a pretty good guy, wouldn’t it make sense that he would totally try to help the American Indians rid themselves of their spacefaring captors?

Sure, we think that the Europeans were a lot more technologically advanced than the peoples of North America. But compared to an alien civilization capable of interplanetary conquest, the explorers must have looked downright primitive. So you can imagine the uphill battle Columbus would have faced in taking on a whole fleet of extraterrestrials, if they were actually there, and if Columbus wasn’t a total jerk.

The ensuing battle would have been a massacre, with tons of casualties on both sides. But what if Columbus and his men were somehow successful? What if they fought bravely enough to drive the aliens back from where came? Columbus and his men would be surrounded by the wreckage of an alien war, dead bodies piled up around them. With the aliens now gone, who would believe their story?

Nobody, and that’s why we’re all blaming it on Columbus. And if the aliens are still out there, don’t you think they’re constantly beaming down misinformation about how the events actually went down? I bet you they’re weaseling their way onto the Internet this very second, spreading lies about how it was Columbus and his men who butchered the Indians.

It’s just a theory, obviously, and a working theory at that. I’m always thinking up new possibilities for how the aliens got here in the first place, what their plans were after they finished conquering the Americas, and how, if any of this is true, the European explorers actually saved the whole planet. But yeah, I don’t have a lot of facts.

But still, the next time you hear someone talking about how Columbus was an asshole, about how he and his men butchered and maimed and raped everyone they came in contact with, just ask yourself, are you sure it wasn’t aliens? Are you really sure? Are positive? Can you prove it wasn’t? No? So stop being so judgmental. Just enjoy your day off. Happy Christopher Columbus Day.

Happy Columbus Day!

Can we please give some credit where credit is due? I’m talking Christopher Columbus, the man who discovered America. Everybody knows the story, they taught it to as schoolchildren. In fourteen hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. And he found America. Nobody else had the guts to go out there and find America. Everyone was too afraid that they’d fall off the face of the flat Earth.


Again, this is all rudimentary American history, I’m not going to go through the whole tried and true “it really happened” story. Because it did happen. And why do I even have to mention that, that it really happened? Because every year, Columbus Day rolls around, and you see a bunch of stuff on the Internet, like “Columbus was an asshole!” or “He didn’t really discover America!”

Or my favorite, “People didn’t really think the earth was flat!” to which I say, oh yeah? If the ancient Greeks knew that the earth was round, how come they didn’t send any ships over to find America? Because they didn’t know the earth was round, and they didn’t know America even existed. That’s why Alexander the Great’s empire collapsed. That’s why Xerxes won at the end of 300. And that’s why The New Adventures of Hercules and Eolis wasn’t renewed for a seventh season.

“Oh but what about the Vikings! What about Newfoundland!” Listen, has anybody ever been to Newfoundland? Because I haven’t. And if you’re thinking it’s a little solipsistic of me to write off a place as nonexistent just because I haven’t been there, I’d like to offer this: none of my friends have ever been to Newfoundland. Have you? Seriously, have you? Because I’ve had friends and family members visit a lot of places, Japan, Africa, even Toronto. So yeah, I can say with some confidence that I’m pretty sure they’re all real. But Newfoundland? Vikings?

I’m not even sure that the Vikings ever existed. But I’m getting off topic. Let’s just say for argument’s sake that Newfoundland does exist. Couldn’t these so-called Vikings have simply crossed the frozen North Pole, straight up from Scandinavia, and then ventured down south to Canada? So even if Newfoundland does exist, it’s not like these bearded adventurers had to cross any oceans or anything. No, because they wouldn’t have, because everybody that was born before Columbus proved that the world is round simply took it as a matter of fact that the planet Earth was flat.

“It doesn’t matter at all,” the naysayers complain every year, “because Columbus was a jerk, he butchered the indigenous population, he would chop off the limbs of little children to test out the sharpness of his blades, he demanded tributes of gold from everyone under his rule and mutilated anybody that failed to meet the quota,” blah, blah, blah.

No way. I remember watching this video in the first grade, it was the complete story of Christopher Columbus, it was a cartoon, how he convinced the Queen of Spain that the earth was round, how he led those three ships across an unprecedented transatlantic voyage. When he finally reached dry land, I distinctly remember him marching to the shore, meeting a group of curious Indians and saying, “Hello! My name is Christopher Columbus! I come in peace!”

Why would they teach little kids something if it were so completely contrary to what actually happened? They wouldn’t do that, not in America, not in the greatest school system in the world. It wouldn’t make any sense, to take something so wildly inaccurate and then present it to little kids as historical fact. What would be the point of such needless revisionism? No, I can only assume that everyone else is lying, that instead of looking to Columbus and seeing a great man, they’re just petty, angry, jealous that they weren’t the ones that got to discover America.

Everybody loves Christopher Columbus. The people of Columbus, Ohio, they really, really love Columbus. The nation of Colombia, they love Columbus even more, they named the whole country after Columbus. That should have been our country’s name, the United States of Colombia. I can’t believe we dropped the ball on that one.

Let’s just give the guy some credit, OK? To a great man, one of the greatest, Christopher J. Columbus. I wish every day were Columbus Day.

I was a history major. I’ve told you that already. Here’s the backstory.

Henry David Thoreau once said, “Don’t try to be a great man, just try to be a man.” I think it was Thoreau. Hold on, I’ll check.

OK, I’m a little embarrassed. It wasn’t Thoreau. It was Zephram Cochrane, inventor of the warp engine in Star Trek. Yeah, he’s a fictional character, so I guess I should really be attributing the quote to whatever writer wrote that line for the actor who played Zephram Cochrane. I should, but I’ve already done so much research with the whole Thoreau thing. I can’t do it anymore. Do you know how hard Thoreau is to spell? I had no idea. I knew the name, like how it sounded, but trying to write it down? I’m not going to put up all of my failed attempts here, but let me just tell you, they were all way off.

Whatever, I wasn’t an English major anyway. I was a history major. History is so much more serious than English. Come on. English. What a joke. Besides, everything that happened in an English class happened in the past. In fact, everything studied at any university is something that has already happened. And so, technically, everything is history. And so, to get even more technical, majoring in history is like majoring in everything, because everything is history. Everything, except for the future. But I don’t think my school offered a major in futurology.

At least, I don’t think so. My school had this ridiculous call-in registration thing. I mean like, hello? Has anybody ever heard of the Internet? It was terrible. You had to get up way too early and call this registration hotline. It was busy for like first five or six hours. But you still had to just keep calling. Finally I got through and this robot voice was all like, “Hello! Welcome to class registration!” Whatever I was so bored at this point. And I was pretty sure that all of my classes would have probably been booked by this late in the day because, well, I said that I sat there for five or six hours listening to the busy signal over and over again, but the truth is, I tried like once or twice, got discouraged, and then went outside to play Frisbee or something. College!

So finally I’m on the line and it’s time to pick classes when the robot lady says, “We’re sorry, you cannot register for classes until you select a major.” And I’m just thinking, “Major? What? Already?” And I looked down at my watch, and sure enough, it said “Sophomore year.” And I’m just like, “Oh shit! Sophomore year already?” The robot lady said, “Please state major.” And I didn’t have any time to think. So I said, “Futurology.” I wasn’t sure if that was what it would have been called. Maybe Futurism? Future Studies? I had no way of knowing. Of course I must have said it wrong, either that or such a program never existed (not yet … maybe in the future) because the phone said, “Does not compute. Please restate major.”

And I knew that if I hung up to think about it, I’d have to call back and deal with more potential busy signals and I’d have to walk over to the student center and find someone who worked there and ask for a registration handbook or a course guidebook or something like that, I have no idea. I didn’t even know what I would have been asking for. And the person helping me would give me that look like, “Shouldn’t you have this figured out by now?” And I was just thinking about that happening and I have such a vivid imagination, like I could clearly imagine some university employee saying this to me, so I got pissed and said out loud “Shut up!” and the phone said back, “Does not compute. Please restate major.”

I knew that these computers had a way of just hanging up after so many botched attempts at communicating with humans, so I just said, “Mystery.” I thought this could have gone in a number of directions. I thought, maybe there’s actually a Mystery major. It would be so cool. You’d get to study murder classics and Hitchcock movies and you’d get to play Clue as an elective class. Either that or maybe the computer would take “Mystery” to mean, “Who knows? Surprise me.” And then I’d get a crazy random major, like Quantum Physics, or Hotel Management.

I sat there waiting. The phone didn’t say anything for a while. Then it clicked, “Major selected: History.” And I was just thinking, OK, did it mistake my saying “Mystery” for “History?” Or did it give me a random major, like I was saying before, but it randomly gave me history? I tried to undo it. “Phone!” I shouted into the phone, “Undo major selection!” But the phone said, “Does not compute. Goodbye.”

And there you have it folks. Best mistake of my life. I learned basically everything there is to learn about everything. Up until graduation that is. Since 2006 I haven’t learned anything. About history I mean. I’ve learned plenty of other stuff, like how to buy a wireless router with a built-in password, or how to pretend to be a Jehovah’s Witness, so that way when real Jehovah’s Witnesses come knocking at my door, I can answer and be like, “Sorry everybody, I’m already a JW. Maybe you should go check on my neighbors.” Actually, this didn’t work out how I thought it would either. Because they just started smiling and saying, “Great! Why don’t you come around town with us! Knocking on doors! Handing out pamphlets! The more the merrier!”

I was a history major

I was just going through a bunch of my old college papers and I stumbled across this gem. (I got an A+)

Everybody thinks that Julius Caesar was killed by his friend Brutus, who, with a group of likeminded conspirators, staged a coup against the powerful Roman Emperor. But that’s not how it happened at all. The real story is: Brutus was one of those childhood friends that Caesar just couldn’t seem to give the slip as he grew to adulthood. As Caesar rocketed up the Roman political ladder, his mom and Brutus’s mom, who happened to be best friends, always kept bugging him, telling him, “Don’t forget about your friend Brutus!” And so Brutus was constantly tagging along, asking the stupidest of questions and always sneezing way too loud, unnecessarily loud really, without ever even bothering to cover his mouth. Then he would wait for somebody to say the Roman equivalent of “God bless you,” but nobody ever did, so he would just say, “Thank you” to nobody at all. And Caeser would just roll his eyes as if to say, “Can you believe this guy?” but nobody ever entertained these complaints, because everyone was thinking, “Hey, don’t look at us Caesar. He’s your friend. You’re the one who keeps bringing him around everywhere.”

As it turned out, Caesar eventually reached a point in his career where his friendship with Brutus shaped up to be quite the political dilemma. It was hard to visualize the Roman Emperor as a leader, as this pillar of strength, when his idiot best friend was constantly knocking things over or picking his nose or starting a round of applause before Caesar had gotten even halfway through a speech. There were whispers of more ambitious leaders, rumors of a leader without a bozo sidekick, someone who could take reign of the empire without having to constantly apologize because his friend drank way too much wine and got up in the middle of the night, really drunk, and, mistaking the imperial guest quarters for the bathroom, peed all over the visiting delegation of Persian dignitaries.

The time to take definitive action had passed years ago. Caesar was really in a bind. He couldn’t just cut Brutus loose, because everyone in the empire would see it as a selfish, dirty, political move. It would be yet another sign of weakness. He would be a total sell-out, a fair-weather friend and fair-weather leader. The only way out of this was some sort of a crazy plan, one that would both get rid of Brutus while at the same time display an unshakable grip on power.

Caesar came up with an ingenious plan. He would tell Brutus to invite a bunch of his friends over for a party. After everyone was good and drunk, like really drunk, like blackout drunk, he would take Brutus alone on a walk through the woods. Once they got far enough away from the palace, Caesar would knock Brutus out; a mild blow to the back of the head ought to have done the trick. Then Caesar would disappear, but not before leaking a memo to the Roman press, signed by Brutus, detailing his plans to mount a coup, to kill Caesar, and to take control of the empire. Caesar even came up with that “Et tu” line himself.

Then Caesar planned to hide out for a while, to let the news of his murder spread throughout Rome. And just when everyone would think his death to be true, he would return to the palace, barging through the doors, claiming that he had returned from the grave to exact revenge upon his murderers. Brutus would be swept out of office, Caesar would be back in charge, and everyone would be terrified of the emperor’s seemingly incredible death-defying powers. His reign would continue, unrivaled, for the rest of his life.

But leave it to Brutus to screw up even the most foolproof of plans. When Caesar told Brutus to invite over a group of his drinking buddies, he hadn’t counted on the fact that Brutus had recently befriended a group of Visigoths hoping to exploit Caesar’s friendship with Brutus to sneak into the palace and kill them both. Everyone got drunk, as per the plan, and Caesar invited his good friend Brutus for a walk. But the Visigoths followed them both and had no trouble murdering Caesar. And they were about to murder Brutus too, but right before they did, Caesar’s fake memo fell out of his tunic pocket. The Visigoths totally bought the story and, assuming he was a wise, calculating leader, decided to let Brutus join their team.

But Brutus was still blackout drunk and wasn’t in a position to be confirming or denying anything. When they all got back to the palace, Brutus went to go get some more wine, but in his stupor, he accidentally poured everybody a drink from a pitcher of poison. (Where he found a pitcher of poison nobody knows for sure. It’s been a subject of debate amongst historians for generations.) Everybody died, except for Brutus, because he passed out for good conveniently just before he was able to take his first sip. When he woke up the next day, he was surrounded by this whole group of slain enemies, one of them clutching Caesar’s made-up story about the coup. The news spread quickly, and suddenly the whole empire developed a new fear and respect for the one-time idiot best friend.

Brutus embraced power and embarked upon planning a campaign of insane public works projects for Rome. His ideas were terrible: liquid chocolate aqueducts; a giant dome to be built around the entire empire, to prevent any aliens from spying; most importantly, feeling constantly guilty for believing that he had killed his best friend, he commissioned the imperial chef to create a new salad in Caesar’s honor. Luckily, none of these plans ever came to see the light of day, except for the salad. The chef overheard Brutus’s musings and created the Cobb salad, because Caesar loved bacon, avocado, and blue cheese dressing. Brutus needed some paper and scissors to make a diorama that he was going to present to the Roman Senate detailing all of his new ideas. But he got way too excited. His mom cried out, “Brutus! You be careful with those scissors! Brutus! Stop running with those scissors! Brutus!” But the power had gone straight to Brutus’s head. He didn’t have to listen to his stupid mom anymore. He was the emperor. But he should have, because he was running way too fast and he tripped on his tunic and landed right on his scissors, which stabbed him directly in the heart. And he died.