I'm not much a fan of The Oatmeal, but I'm also not a fan of boredom, so I decided to check out his website. His Columbus Day comic laid out all the awful things Christopher Columbus did to the native after he came out here, and recommends an alternative hero: Bartolomé de las Casas.
Now, I know Columbus was an asshole. You won't find me defending him. He did his only significant accomplishment because he was incompetent and couldn't calculate the actual size of the globe. Had things worked out slightly differently, he'd be dead, along with his entire crew. Then, once he made it to the new world, he promptly did awful things to the native population.
But again, The Oatmeal continues its habit of lionizing people who don't necessarily deserve it. Bartolomé de las Casas was probably a very good person, but he was also the father of the African slave trade in the Americans. That didn't make The Oatmeal's writeup, of course. According to what I was taught in high school, the treatment of the native slaves appalled de las Casas, and he was certain it would result in all of them dying. His recommended solution? Bring over slaves from Africa and use them instead. He thought that they were hardier, and would survive it better. His behavior was more admirable than Columbus, but that's like saying that a cat is more tree-like than a dog. They both did bad things and helped expand the slave trade. So that's The Oatmeal's hero.
Top photo from the LA Times.
Edit: Thanks to The Oatmeal for linking my article! It's nice to know you're interested in the response to your comic. To quote your response:
"This issue keeps coming up and, despite my footnotes, I keep seeing commentary about it as well as a bit of vitriolic stupidity directed more at me, The Oatmeal, than Columbus, Bartolomé, or the actual issue of fact-finding itself.
Initially, Bartolomé de las Casas advocated the use of African slaves instead of native labor. In the first few years after he renounced his land and title, his initial cause was to end the suffering of the natives, rather than seeking an end to the institution of slavery itself, and so this became his deplorable rationale for the endorsement of African slavery. Bartolomé de las Casas eventually retracted those views, however, and came to see all forms of slavery as being equally wrong. In The History of the Indies published in 1527, he wrote the following:
I soon repented and judged myself guilty of ignorance. I came to realize that black slavery was as unjust as Indian slavery...
and I was not sure that my ignorance and good faith would secure me in the eyes of God."
Check your research. A History of the Indies was started in 1527, and not completed until 1561. He then gave it to someone with instructions not to publish it until 1601. It actually was not published until the 19th century.
A great number of The Oatmeal's readers have accused me of just posting linkbait or being jealous of Inman. You're wrong. I am not a paid blogger. I'm not a writer, nor am I the author of a webcomic. The Observation Deck is pretty much a community message board simply hosted by Gawker Media. I simply posted this for a couple people with whom I regularly interact to read.
Now, do you still want to post? Good! Type it up! But before you hit "Submit," please ask yourself, "Can I tell the difference between what I've written and what a rabid One Direction fan would write?" If the answer is no, please don't bother.
Also, you may want to read the other comments. I've responded to a great many of them already. It will save us both some trouble if you check it out. Welcome to the O-Deck!