1. Christopher Columbus was terrible: It’s become pretty cliché at this point to note, because it’s been done to great effect by everyone from famous historians, but Christopher Columbus was a terrible human being. On his return trips to the Americas, Columbus forced the natives to bring him gold. When someone brought him gold, he gave the person a little pendant to wear around his or her neck, which exempted that person from needing to bring him more gold—for a little while. The freedom granted by that pendant would eventually expire and, if a native didn’t bring Columbus more gold, he’d cut off a hand and make the native wear it around his or her neck.
2. Christopher Columbus didn’t actually discover America: The first human beings to “discover” America were the nomadic tribes who crossed over the land bridge in the Bering Strait from Asia into what is present day Alaska and whose ancestors then settled the continent.
3. Christopher Columbus didn’t actually prove the Earth was round: At the time when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, very few people actually thought it was possible to fall off the edge of the Earth.
4. Even the origin of Columbus Day is horribly depressing: Starting in the late 1800s, a wave of Italian immigrants started coming to America. Instead of welcoming them with open arms, much of the country reacted with revulsion—inventing a litany of derogatory stereotypes and even forming lynch mobs.
5. No one actually celebrates Columbus Day: What if the United States government thew a federal holiday and nobody went? That would basically be Columbus Day.
6. We’re lionizing the wrong European explorer: In his own post from last year excoriating Columbus’s legacy, Matthew Inman proposed a different hero from that era: Bartolome de las Casas. De las Casas was a 16th Century writer, friar and activist for the cause of Native rights.