THE EDITOR: As a Trinidadian I am appalled at the defacing of the Christopher Columbus statue in Port of Spain and I call on the relevant authorities to fix the damage. I fail to see how attacking Columbus contributes to the development of our country.
The defacing encourages hatred, violence and perpetuates a complex of victimhood. The perpetrators are the real criminals here. The Malicious Damage Act states that the perpetrators should be jailed for two years. Not only are they criminals but hypocrites. They are no saints, just like Columbus was no saint.
Columbus was a human being with both his good and bad points. Can we not find a bit of virtue and vice in ourselves? Is it not hypocritical then to dump red paint on his statue? Have I not done any wrong? Should I have red paint dumped on me too? Maybe we should dump paint on the perpetrators if we ever find out who they are.
I wonder how many of Columbus’ TT critics can honestly say they have read profoundly about him, or are they just repeating tired diatribes and supposed “universal knowledge” about him? Do they know the paucity of primary sources that exist about him? Are we really in a position to judge him? Can we say that those few documents allow us an eye into the complexity of his person and give us the right to judge him?
I for one consider myself to be a complex creature with many layers of intentions and motivations behind my every action and thought. And I think Columbus was as well.
And any negative effects of those Europeans from different countries who came after Columbus cannot be laid on his shoulders. If it wasn’t Columbus, surely someone else would have attempted the journey given, for example, that a Viking, Lief Erikson, made a journey several hundred years prior. And given that Columbus died five years after his final voyage, I fail to see how he can be guilty of what was done here after his death.
In Trinidad’s case, while there were attempts to find gold on the island, the first real attempt at colonization was by Don Antonio Sedeño, 23 years after Columbus’ death in 1530.
The fact is that his venturing to cross what we now call the Atlantic was an act of stupendous bravery and optimism, objectively speaking. Especially, given the technology at the end of the 15th century and all the obstacles he had to overcome to finally set out. He decisively changed the course of human history, like it or not.
Many of us are in TT because of him, for better or for worse. And I invite any disgruntled person to leave our shores. Given the ease of transport today it shouldn’t be too hard. It’s not like you have to convince the queen of Spain to finance you and to let you go.
ISIDORE GABRIEL, Maraval