Speaking of Racist Icons That Need to Go, Here’s Adam Ruins Everything On How Everything You Learned About Christopher Columbus Was a Lie
Tuesday’s episode of the TruTV comedy show Adam Ruins Everything tackled a variety of topics in their first animated episode, challenging the common misinformation surrounding King Tut, grammar rules, and Christopher Columbus, who somehow still has a holiday despite being a big murderous fraud who didn’t understand math and thought the Earth was “shaped like a ball with a breastlike protuberance.” Or, as Adam Conover explains, a pear with a nipple.
On this child-inappropriate Magic School Bus adventure, the host dispels the most persistent myths around the explorer. Mainly, he points out that it was common knowledge that the Earth was round, that Columbus didn’t “discover” America or even step foot on it, and that he brutally slaughtered most of the quarter-million Taíno people already living in the Caribbean.
So where did these myths that painted him as an innovative, brave explorer come from? “For centuries, Columbus was a historical footnote,” says the host, “But that changed in 1828, when Washington Irving, the writer of The Legend of Sleepy Hallow and other tall tales, wrote the first English-language biography of Columbus.”
Irving’s text was adopted and promoted to Italian-Americans who came to America in search of acceptance, and now it’s taught in song form as indisputable fact in our public school systems. So maybe let’s stop celebrating Columbus and his “achievements,” and instead make his legacy one of violent shame rather than fictional bravery?
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