Howard Zinn on Colonization Essay

Howard Zinn on Colonization Essay

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Though a vast majority of students learn about Columbus’ great conquests and celebrate him as a hero, very few know of the horrible atrocities he caused when he first landed in America. While considered a hero by most in the United States, Zinn argues that people should think twice about Columbus’ actions, and question whether his behavior to the Indians was necessary. In quotes one and five, Zinn clearly depicts his thoughts on the atrocities done by Columbus and other colonists to the natives living in America.
Zinn first refers to the author Morrison and how he deals with who Columbus really was. Instead of “[lying] outright about the past” or “[omitting] facts, which might lead to unacceptable conclusions,” Morrison tells the truth about Columbus’ murders, and even calls it genocide. According to Zinn, Morrison “does something else. He mentions the truth quickly and goes on to other things more important to him.” Zinn believes that Morrison’s choice to do this meant that he was telling his readers, “yes, mass murder took place, but it’s not that important – it should weigh very little in our final judgments; it should affect very little what we do in the world.” Zinn is right. Too many history books either don’t mention or glaze over Columbus’ actions, and simply lead the readers to believe that he was a hero who found America. Even in his own journal entries, it is clear that Columbus wanted to exploit the natives for his own benefit, and never wanted to try and work with them. He says, “They should be good and intelligent servants.” “With 50 men all of them could be held in subjection and can be made to do whatever one might wish.” He took some Indians back as slaves, and was brutal when he went to war with th...


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...lumbus’ treatment of the people he found when he finally landed the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria was atrocious, and should not be ignored when talking about his great accomplishments. Zinn sheds a clear light on who Columbus really was, and what his main objectives were in the New World. Though Columbus is a hero, and the United States would not exist without his contribution to history, he was accountable for thousands of deaths, and that should not be forgotten.



Works Cited

Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States
(New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005), 8.
Ibid., 8.
Ibid., 8.
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, Voices of a People’s History of the United States
(New York: Seven Stories Press, 2009), 32
Ibid., 34.
Ibid., 38.
Ibid., 39.
Ibid., 39.
Ibid., 41.
Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, 17.

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