Should America Take Down Monuments That Romanticize Conquistadors?

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tags: Christopher Columbus, Confederate Monuments



Calls to remove Confederate statues have been on the rise since August 2017, when white supremacists held a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. However, those aren’t the only types of monuments that have drawn recent criticism. In September, protesters painted the hand of a Christopher Columbus statue red in New York City, decapitated a statue of St. Junipero Serra and doused it with red paint in Santa Barbara, and painted the foot of a Don Juan de Oñate statue red in Alcalde, New Mexico.

All these monuments have one big thing in common: They depict men who systematically killed and enslaved Native peoples while advancing Spain’s foothold in the New World.

“There’s a bigger issue here, and that is what it means to tell the truth about history,” says Stephanie Fryberg, a professor of American Indian Studies and Psychology at the University of Washington. Depicting Columbus as heroic—for instance, by honoring him with a statue—presents a “sterilized, romanticized version of history.”




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