flies in the ointment :People are sometimes bitten while they are asleep because they roll onto it while it is hunting in the bed. The bite is usually painless until 3 to 8 hours later when it may become red, swollen, and tender. They prefer quiet, undisturbed areas such as closets, garages, basements, and attics. Large numbers often congregate outdoors around the perimeter of structures. Severe infestations require specialized skills, persistence and equipment to eradicate. In these situations, it would be prudent to call a professional pest control operator
[Columbus'] journal was revealing. He described the people who greeted him when landed in the Bahamas--they were Arawak Indians, some times called Tainos--and told how they waded out into the sea to greet him and his men, who must have looked and sounded like people from another world, and brought them gifts of various kinds. He described them as peaceable, gentle, and said: “They do not bear arms, and do not know them for I showed them a sword--they took it by the edge and cut themselves.” Throughout his journal, over the next months, Columbus spoke of the native Americans with what seemed like admiring awe: “They are the best people in the world and above all the gentlest--without knowledge of what is evil--nor do they murder or steal...they love their neighbors as themselves and they have the sweetest talk in the world...always laughing.” And in a letter he wrote to one of his Spanish patrons, Columbus said: “They are very simple and honest and exceedingly liberal with all they have, none of
them refusing anything he may possess when he is asked for it. They exhibit great love toward all others in preference to themselves." But in the midst of all this, in his journal, Columbus writes: “They would make fine servants. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want." This was how Columbus saw the Indians--not as hospitable hosts, but “servants,” to “do whatever we want.” And what did Columbus want? This is not hard to determine. In the first two weeks of journal entries, there is one word that recurs seventy-five times: gold... In his quest for gold, Columbus, seeing bits of gold among the Indians, concluded there were huge amounts of it. He ordered the natives to find a certain amount of gold within a certain period of time. And if they did not meet their quota, their arms were hacked off. The others were to learn from this and deliver the gold. Samuel Eliot Morison, the Harvard historian who was Columbus’ admiring biographer, acknowledged this. He wrote: “Whoever thought up this ghastly system, Columbus was responsible for it, as the only means of producing gold for export.... Those who fled to the mountains were hunted with hounds, and those who escaped, starvation and disease took toll, while thousands of poor creatures in desperation took cassava poison to end their miseries.” Morison continues: “So the policy and acts of Columbus for which he alone was responsible began the depopulation of the terrestrial paradise that was Hispaniola in 1492. Of the original natives, estimated by modern ethnologists at 300,000 in number, one-third were killed off between 1494 and 1496. By 1508, an enumeration showed only 60,000 alive...in 1548 Oviedo (Morison is referring to Fernandex de Oviedo, the official Spanish historian of conquest) doubted whether 500 Indians remained. But Columbus could not obtain enough gold to send home to impress the King and Queen and his Spanish financiers, so he decided to send back to Spain another kind of loot: slaves. They rounded up about 1200 natives, selected 500, and these were sent, jammed together, on the voyage across the Atlantic. Two hundred died on the way, of cold, of sickness. In Columbus’ journal, an entry of September 1498 reads: “From here one might send, in the name of Holy Trinity, as many slaves as could be sold...” What the Spaniards did to the Indians is told in horrifying detail by Bartolome de las Casas, whose writing give the most thorough account of the Spanish-Indian encounter. Las Casas was a Dominican priest who came to the New World a few years after Columbus, spent forty years on Hispaniola and nearby islands, and became the leading advocate in Spain for the rights of the natives. Las Casas, in his book The Devastation of the Indies, writes of Arawaks: “...of all the infinite universe of humanity, these people are the most guileless, the most devoid of wickedness and duplicity...yet into this sheepfold...there came some Spaniards who immediately behaved like ravening beasts.... Their reason for killing and destroying... is that Christian’s have an ultimate aim which is to acquire gold...” The cruelties multiplied. Las Casas saw soldier stabbing Indians for sport, dashing babies’ heads on rocks. And when the Indians resisted, the Spaniards hunted them down, equipped for killings with horses, armor plate, lances, pikes, rifles, crossbows, and vicious dogs. Indians who took things belonging to Spaniards--they were not accustomed to the concept of private ownership and gave freely of their own possessions--were beheaded, or burned at the stake. Las Casas’ testimony was corroborated by other eyewitnesses. A group of Dominican friars, addressing the Spanish monarchy in 1519, hoping for the Spanish government to intercede, told about unspeakable atrocities, children thrown to dogs to be devoured, new-born babies born to women prisoners flung into the jungle to die. Forced labor in the mines and on the land led to much sickness and death. Many children died because their mothers, overworked and starved, had no milk for them. Las Casas, in Cuba, estimated that 7000 children died in three months. The greatest toll was taken by sickness, because the Europeans brought with them disease against which the native had no immunity: typhoid, typhus, diphtheria, smallpox...
A school teacher in Portland, Oregon named Bill Bigelow has undertaken a crusade to change the way the Columbus story is taught all over America. He tells of how he sometimes starts a new class. He goes over to a girl in the front row and takes her purse. She says: “You took my purse!” Bigelow responds: “No, I discovered it.”
:Columbus & Western Civilization, Howard Zinn (excerpts)