John Oliver Explains Why We Should End Columbus Day

October 12th 2015

Mike Vainisi

"How is this still a thing?" John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" asked about Columbus Day last year during a segment that's worth revisiting as we once again encounter the holiday. The sketch points out that while American children learn about Columbus' voyage to the New World on the holiday, they are rarely told the whole story, which includes the genocide of the indigenous people he encountered.

"Of course, what [students] tend not to learn are the parts of Columbus' life where he kidnapped Native Americans and sold them into slavery, had his men slice them to pieces, and through disease and warfare, killed roughly half the population of Haiti."

John Oliver on Christopher Columbus

If you've seen Columbus' heinous journal entries, none of this will surprise you. Here's one selection:

"With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want. Here there are so many of these slaves."

Related: Christopher Columbus' Journal Will Make You Cringe

In addition to Columbus' treatment of the native population, the video also points out that Columbus' claim to have "discovered" the continents of North and South America stretches credibility. The key question asked by Oliver's show: How can one "discover a continent with millions of people already living on it"? Instead, it seems like Columbus' "most famous discovery was a case of getting lost and refusing to ask directions," the video concludes.

Related: Why We Should Abolish Columbus Day Now

This complicated narrative was lost over time. Why? Perhaps, as the show says, the simpler, cleaner story is easier to tell.

"But in fairness, none of that rhymes with 'In fourteen-hundred and ninety-two..." the video said.

You can see the rest of the segment here:


Check out ATTN:'s video that asks whether we should continue to celebrate Christopher Columbus Day

Is it time to abolish Columbus Day?

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Posted by ATTN: on Saturday, October 10, 2015