(Dias, Columbus, DeGama, Balboa, Vespucci, Magellan, Cook, De Las Casas, silver, small pox)
Roughly five hundred years after Christopher Columbus discovered Jamaica, a Jamaican band called Bob Marley and the Wailers wrote a song that provides a good comentary on the predominant version of the history of the new world: that "heroic," brave men like Columbus, Captain Morgan and Hawkins settled an otherwise uncivilized land, bringing the progress of Western Europe to a "new world." Certainly this narrative is true in some ways since it took great courage to set sail into unknown waters and conquer new lands in the name of the kings and god. There are other dimensions to the history, however. This song, through its critique of the Euroean explorers and traders and its dual assertion that "you can't blame the youth" (for wanting to conqurer and subjugate peoples) but "you can't fool the youth" because other historical truths have come into view since then. It took more than heroism for a few conquistadors to conquer Latin and South America. Disease, alliances with the enemies of the Aztecs and Incas, and a lot of violience toward the native peoples (as evidenced by Bartolome de Las Casas's letters to the Spanish monarch and clergy, detailing the atrocities committed against the native peoples in the name of king and god.) It is no wonder that Pope John Paul II appologized on behalf of the church in the 1990s.