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Sunday, October 9, 2011

John Brown Day

While I understand the thinking behind having a holiday to honor Columbus, there are so many historical figures worthy of being so remembered. Who are your nominations?

I'm starting with figures that history has shown to be ahead of the curve. So I hereby declare October 9 John Brown day in honor of the 19th century abolitionist. His name and legacy have been on my mind (along with Columbus) for a few months based on reading James Loewen's 1995 book "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Book Got Wrong". Although I've always been suspicious of much of the history I was taught, this book is so scrupulously researched I now know I was foolishly naive for years.

Although we appropriately honor Columbus as a great explorer, tomorrow I will also reflect on the dark side of his legacy: an exploiter of native people. And today I celebrate John Brown, who deserved to pay the ultimate price for taking the law into his own hands but also a man on the right side of history.     

2 comments:

  1. Did Columbus exploit the native people? I didn't think he was around long enough to do that.

    I nominate Émile Zola for his own day, having just watched the film The Life of Émile Zola this morning. If the portrayal was at all accurate he stood up to power in search of truth and justice, just like Superman, except for the fact that he was French and used the pen instead of being a man of steel.

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  2. According to Loewen, Columbus did a fair degree of exploiting, as did all the Europeans credited with "discovering" America.

    Love the idea of an Emile Zola day.

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