Essay: American Holocaust Prologue

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American Holocaust Prologue

Author David Stannard's book American Holocaust (1992) provides a view of the European explorers who settled the so-called "New World" of the Americas that completely defies the common perception of their exploits. In contemporary American society, explorers like Christopher Columbus, Cortes, Pizzarro, and the American Pioneers who settled the "Wild West" are all regarded and celebrated as heroes who braved great risks and accomplished something beneficial for future generations. Every October, Americans hold parades to honor Columbus's discovery of America, for the most obvious example.

However, at the time that these historical figures "discovered" and "settled" these lands, they were all already occupied by native peoples who had lived there peacefully for hundreds or thousands of years. Our historical retrospective completely ignores the fact that what we remember euphemistically as "exploration" or "settlement" really masks a horrible truth of exploitation, brutality, murder, and genocide. Stannard uses very effective examples to illustrate the vast scale of the atrocities committed by the European explorers in particular. For example, he explains that the scale of murder of the "Indian" peoples of the Americas (itself an incredibly presumptuous and ethnocentric name based on the erroneous assumptions attributable to bad navigation and geographical awareness of the Europeans) with reference to the hypothetical murder of modern-day Americans. Specifically in that regard, Stannard explains that the percentage of native "Indians" who were slaughtered by the Europeans after they arrived in the Americas would be comparable (numerically) to the murder of every Caucasian and African-American living today in the United States.

In fact, when the European explorers began "settling" the "New World," they systematically exploited, cheated, enslaved, and simply murdered the native populations by the thousands until virtually every single member of those ancient societies was dead within less than a century of their first unfortunate first contact with the Europeans. In many cases, the motive was economic, such as in the atrocities committed by Columbus and his men against… [END OF PREVIEW]

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American Holocaust Prologue.  (2011, February 8).  Retrieved August 19, 2019, from

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"American Holocaust Prologue."  8 February 2011.  Web.  19 August 2019. <>.

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"American Holocaust Prologue."  February 8, 2011.  Accessed August 19, 2019.