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The Contender
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People should not celebrate Columbus day, and not look up to him

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/4/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,554 times Debate No: 24079
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
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In this debate, i would like to argue about how people should not celebrate Christopher Columbus day and not look up to him, since he is very selfish.


No trolling
No inappropriate language
Sources are a MUST

First round acceptance


I'll take this one, I can imagine some of your arguments but it should be interesting to see your stance. I suggest a shared Burden of Proof in the round, where you have to prove why shouldn't celebrate/idolize him and I have to prove why we should. Furthermore, as the resolution clearly states "and", in order for the resolution to stand you must prove that we should both prove we shouldn't celebrate his holiday AND that we shouldn't look up to him, and I only have to prove one of those two stances wrong in order for the resolution to be negated.

That being said, good luck and I'm looking forward to the debate :)
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting my debate. May the best of both win.

The second Monday in October is celebrated across America as Columbus Day. It is a celebration of the man who discovered America. In school, children are taught that Christopher Columbus was a national hero. In actuality, the man was a murderer. It is true that he found a land that was unknown to the "civilized" world, yet in this discovery, he erased the natives inhabiting the land. With slavery, warfare, and inhumane acts, Christopher Columbus and the men who accompanied him completely destroyed a people, a culture, and a land. These are not actions that should be heralded as heroic.

When his thoughts and actions throughout his voyages are considered, one can see that Columbus was never respectful of the rights of the natives he encountered. His first sight of what he termed "Indians" was of a group of attractive, unclothed people. Speculation is that, to him, their nakedness represented a lack of culture, customs, and religion. Columbus saw this as an opportunity to spread the word of God, while at the same considering how they could possibly be exploited. He believed that they would be easy to conquer because they appeared defenseless, easy to trick because they lacked experience in trade, and an easy source of profit because they could be enslaved. It obviously did not occur to Columbus to consider these people in any terms aside from that of master and slave. These thoughts were merely a foreshadowing of what was to come.

Even in Columbus's own letters one can see the arrogance he possessed in claiming the islands he found. In a letter describing his findings to his friend Luis de Santangel, he wrote, "And there I found very many islands filled with people innumerable, and of them all I have taken possession for their Highnesses.…". Columbus never stopped to consider that these islands were not his to take, nor were the people that inhabited them. He simply took over these lands, even going so far as to rename them all. In order to let everyone know of his great discovery, he returned to Spain with many new items, including kidnapped Indians. He was attempting to glorify Spain and its monarchs while creating fame for himself.

Columbus's arrogance and exploitation regarding slavery began on his second voyage. Ferdinand and Isabella had ordered that the natives be treated kindly. In opposition to this order, Columbus began exporting slaves in great numbers in 1494. It was because he was not making any real profit elsewhere on the island that he decided to exploit the one source of income--people--he had in abundance . When word reached him that the crown did not want him sending more slaves, Columbus ignored it. He was desperate to make his expeditions profitable enough for Ferdinand and Isabella's continued support. Evidently he was not reprimanded because thousands of Indians were exported. By the time they reached Spain, usually a third of them were dead. Bartolome de las Casas wrote that one Spaniard had told him they did not need a compass to find their way back to Spain; they could simply follow the bodies of floating Indians who had been tossed overboard when they died. It is horrible to consider that the exportation of these natives resulted in thousands of deaths. It is much worse when one realizes that they were caused by one man's desire for glory.

The Indians that were not exported were put into slavery on the island. There was literally no way to escape some form of enslavement. Columbus would let the settlers of his establishment choose whomever they wanted for their own. One account claims that each settler had slaves to work for them, dogs to hunt for them, and beautiful women to warm their beds. This degradation of an entire group of people seemed not to bother Columbus or the Spaniards in any way. They appeared to consider it their right as superiors.

Enslavement of the Indians was not the only violation they were forced to endure; Columbus also terrorized, tortured, and killed them. At one point in time, Columbus sent five hundred men into the hills to search for gold. Upon hearing that the Indians were planning to attack the men, Columbus sent four hundred soldiers to terrorize them in order to show how strong the Christians were. Since Columbus was in charge, he felt he could do as he chose without repercussions. He believed that the Christians could do no wrong and therefore never punished them. One of the Spaniards went through the hills, terrorizing the Indians and stealing their food. Columbus punished the Indian victims instead of the Christian culprit. Obviously, the culprit was not so much of a Christian. His activities, and others like it, soon led to an all out war between the settlers and the natives. Due to their inferior weaponry, thousands of Indians were wiped out while those that were not were captured.

Other atrocities committed by Columbus and his men were reported by Michele de Cuneo, one of the Spaniards with whom he was traveling. One account tells of how they came upon a canoe and Indians and they attacked them. They thought they had killed one of the Indians and threw him into the water. Upon seeing him begin to swim, they caught him and cut his head with an axe. They later sent the rest of the Indians to Spain. He also gives a relatively descriptive account of his rape of an Indian woman; an act committed with Columbus's blessing. Columbus apparently believed it was his right to pass the captured women out to his men, and they, in turn, believed they did not need to ask for the women's consent. As awful as it may be, rape was one of the less violent acts they committed against the Indians.

Columbus and his men could be a very cruel group of people. Under the guise of subduing the enemy, they would engage in horrific activities. At times, they would make an example of an Indian by cutting his hands off and tying them around his neck, telling him to then go and share the message. Other times they would go and massacre an entire village, unconcerned with the age of their victims. These are the types of inhumane activities undertaken by the men that Columbus led. This type of treatment continued a pattern seen throughout history. The degradation and belief of superiority can be seen in the way the American Indians were later treated. It can also be seen in the way the Africans were treated. Columbus certainly set a precedent, although it would be a stretch to call it an admirable one.

It is certain that the Indian's version of the "discovery" would be quite different from the European accounts had they been given the opportunity to tell it. Certain artifacts have shown that they were not an uncivilized community as Columbus had claimed. They had a wide range of abundant food sources, healthy relationships with their neighbors, and were experienced traders. Despite what Columbus believed, they also had their own distinct religion, termed Zemiism. It is believed to be "the personification of spiritual power achieved with the aid of supernatural forces represented as idols". The Indian's story will never be told because they did not write and never had the opportunity to hand it down. Within a generation of Columbus's landing, their entire group of people and their culture became extinct. Bartolome de las Casas wrote, "And it is a great sorrow and heartbreak to see this coastal land which was so flourishing, now a depopulated desert". When the natives began to die off, they were replaced with African slaves. Today, the descendents of these slaves are the only ones who remain. It is sad that Columbus's search for fame led to the eradication of an entire culture. Greed and the desire for glory caused him to destroy that which he is famed.
Christopher Columbus is in no way a hero. All he did was encounter unknown lands while trying to get to Asia. His great accomplishment was the destruction of an entire population. How is that heroic?


As my opponent has not set a structure for the round, I'm not going to negate her constructive yet out of fairness to her in case that's the way she wanted it. We have an extremely long debate in front of us, so it won't make a huge impact on the debate.

Contention 1: How the round will be judged.
My first contention will be arguing over how the round will be judged. If my opponent agrees to it, then she may simply drop the contention as it's counting as true will not actually weigh on the arguments themselves, only how they are judged.
Subpoint A: Burden of Proof
As my opponent has stated a claim, the burden of proof is upon her to prove that claim correct[1]. As the resolution states "People should not celebrate Columbus day, and not look up to him", she must, in fact prove two things. The first, being that people should not celebrate Columbus day, and the second being that people should not look up to Christopher Columbus as a role model, example, or any other sense of the term, due to the critical word and. Should my opponent not be able to prove both arguments in her case, the burden of proof fails and the case will be successfully negated.
Subpoint B: Duty of the Negative
This subpoint is simply to explain how I need to win the case. There are two possible ways for me to negate the resolution. The first would be to prevent the Pro from upholding her burden of proof of one or both of the claims made in the resolution through argumentation. The second way would be to prove how people should either celebrate Columbus day, look up to Christopher Columbus, or both, thus proving at least one of the statements the resolution is standing on false.

Contention 2: The United States of America have historical ties to Columbus.
"The second Monday in October is celebrated across America as Columbus Day."[4], Because of this sentence, I can conclude that the round will be focused around America's use of Columbus Day, so I'll focus on that. Columbus, as we all know, was the first evoy from the Spanish to land in the Western Hemisphere, first in the Bahamas, the first to set up a military structure in the Western Hemisphere (in modern day Haiti), and the first to name several islands in the Hispaniola region. [2]. If it were not for Columbus's exploration and colonization in the region, the Western Hemisphere would not have been colonized for quite some time, if at all. And, logically, if the region were not colonized or explored thoroughly, then the English and French would not have set up colonies, and the United States of America would never come to be. Therefore, because America has historical ties to Columbus, and have him to thank for its founding, America is justified in celebrating Columbus Day as a national holiday, and in looking up to him as the man who discovered America.

Contention 3: Columbus inspired many future explorers.
Were Columbus not looked up to in the past, many of the famous explorers of the past and the discoveries we have because of them would never have come to be. The mere act of Columbus finding a "New World" and finding that the inhabitants of that region were seemingly rich in Gold, he inspired a new wave of explorers who came to the Western Hempisphere, explored the region, and set up colonies[3]. If Columbus were not looked up to in the past, the world as we know it would not exist, and would instead be replaced with new names, new national boundaries, and other consequences that would come about from the colonies discovered and explored by Colombus. Furthermore, Because Columbus inspired the exploration of the Western Hemisphere, and because of all of his accomplishments as listed in Contention 2, he should be looked up to by the citizens of the United States as the man who found the Americas.

Common objections:
This section is to adress commonly made objections and rebut them before they are made. A pre-buttal, if you will.

"But Columbus made Hispanics into slaves!"
A common objection made by those discrediting Columbus would be that he took slaves in the region then known as Hispaniola. However, Slavery was a common practice at the time and many of our own presidents had slaves. If we couldn't honor or look up to someone because of slaves, then we couldn't look up to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson (he was actually one of the largest slaveowners in Virginia), Andrew Jackson, and James K. Polk, to name the most well-known[5]. Not only would we not be able to look up to these famous presidents as leaders, but we wouldn't be able to celebrate Presidents Day because many of our first Presidents owned slaves.

"Columbus didn't know he was settling the Western Hemisphere!"
Although Columbus thought he found a new landmass near Asia, and continued to believe that untill his death [3], that does not make his impacts any less huge. Regardless of whether or not he knew it, he still mapped the Western Hemisphere, and thus still made it possible to colonize in the future, and he still inspired a whole new generation of explorers who made this New World possible.

"But he spread plagues among the native population!"
A common claim made is that because Columbus spread plagues among the Indigenous population of the Hispanic region[6], and inspired further plagues brought by other Europeans, he should not be looked up to. However, it is not fair to look to Columbus for the blame. The reason the plagues actually occurred was because the immunities of the indigenous population were not used to these diseases, and as such could not properly stop them before it spread and killed rapidly. This means that any European who would have eventually reached the Western Hemisphere would have spread these diseases, it was simply inevitable, and so you can't blame any one man for the failures of an immune system.

"But he brough a plague back to Europe!"
Another claim, similar to the last, is that Columbus brought back Syphilis to the Europeans[7] and a plague of that ravaged in his homeland. However, for this rebuttal, you can look back to my arguments made in the last prebuttal, but alter it to where the Europeans' immune systems weren't able to stop the plague.

Works Cited:
Debate Round No. 2


CarlaJMena forfeited this round.


extend arguments untill they're rebutted, just waiting for her to respond for now...
Debate Round No. 3


CarlaJMena forfeited this round.


Since Pro has forfeited two rounds rather than actually concede the round, despite the fact that I commented and PMd her asking to do so because she's been debating on other rounds, and because she said sources were a must and yet never provided them, I respectfully ask for the conduct vote.

Because my opponent did not provide any sources and I provided seven, I respectfully ask for the Sources vote.

Because the S/G vote is mostly opinionated, I can't ask for it.

Because My case negates my opponent's by proving she cannot fulfill Burden of Proof through showing reasons why Columbus Day should be celebrated in America and why he should be looked up to, I respectufully ask for the arguments vote.
Debate Round No. 4


It seems that my hands are tied. I will admittedly say that con did prove his case. As i am on other debates and tight schedules, i will let con get this round. My only problem is parents teaching their kids columbus was a good man, when infact, he was a monster. Good debate.

Vote Con.


My opponent has conceded, so she also drops that I deserve the points listed in R4 :) Vote Con!

Also, Columbus wasn't a "monster", he was just a typical (personality-wise) person for his time.
Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by CarlaJMena 6 years ago
im speechless... But since the arguement didnt have alot of visitors, its not such a shocker.
Posted by TheOrator 6 years ago
I can't believe this went tied...
Posted by TheOrator 6 years ago
Hey Carla, I know that you've been updating and even finishing other arguments while this one has been going on, so if you want to concede please go ahead and type it instead of letting the clock run down.
Posted by martianshark 6 years ago
Fail. Pro didn't source anything even though it was in her rules.
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