Commentary on the Attempt by a Certain Right-Wing Columnist to Alter History

Last week’s Indianapolis Star article by Columnist Pete Heck entitled “Revisionism about Columbus misleads students” was shockingly misleading in its own right. It is amazing that a person who lists himself as a “teacher” would demonstrate such an appalling ignorance of American history.

To begin with, he suggests that Columbus had a “favorable bias” towards Native Americans, praising “their honesty, sincerity and generosity.” Mr. Heck ignores an entry in Columbus’s original journal which reads in part:

They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… .
They would make fine servants… .
With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

Columbus additionally added in his report that the Native Americans “are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no.” He further noted that his next voyage would bring the Crown “as much gold as they need…and as many slaves as they ask.” And this is the man who Mr. Heck would state held a “favorable bias” towards Indians.

But Mr. Heck’s profound narrowness concerning American history grows far worse when he suggests that “the European’s culture was vastly superior in most every way.” To begin with, he fails to note that Queen Isabella, the sovereign who Columbus reported to, led the Spanish Inquisition which resulted in the deportation and tragic execution of tens of thousands Spanish and Italian Jews and Muslims. He also fails to note that Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431 at the age of 19 based in part on the Roman Catholic Church’s objection that she insisted on dressing as a man in combat.

But it gets much worse, and Mr. Heck knows it. Native Americans were not only destroyed in large numbers by European diseases, but they were eventually left on the edge of starvation through the intentional destruction of their chief food source in the West, buffalo.

Mr. Heck further knows that friendly and cooperative Native Americans in the South were forcibly removed West of the Mississippi by President Jackson in the unforgivable travesty known as “The Trail of Tears”. Furthermore, the European culture that Mr. Heck seems to worship proceeded to bring millions of black slaves from Africa to work plantations in this country, and this is a stain on our national history that he cannot wash away by picking and choosing what Americans should remember.

Finally, before condemning Indian culture for torturing and killing some captives, may I remind him of what Pilgrims did to innocent people after the Salem Witch Trials in 1692? History is important, Mr. Heck, and your selective memory is not helpful.