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Maier ’17: Columbian Exchange Day

Opinions Columnist
Monday, October 5, 2015

Editors’ Note: This column has been removed after it was unintentionally published due to an internal error. The column made a racist argument about how Native Americans should interpret the meaning of Columbus Day and its history. We apologize to our readers for the offensive claims made in the column and for the shortcomings of our editorial process. After initially deciding the column was suitable for publication, a couple of editors read the column late last night and decided not to publish it. We contacted our publisher but were unable to reach them, and they printed the issue with the column inside. The article was also online for about an hour before we took it down. Having said that, we should have identified the issues with the column earlier in the evening and avoided the last-minute change altogether. Because we never intended for the column to be published, we do not think it necessary for the text to remain online. The Herald is committed to an accurate and thoughtful opinions section, and we are taking steps to prevent similar issues in the future. Though we continue to strive to promote a venue for the free exchange of ideas, we do not and will not tolerate racism. We invite readers to send responses to

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  1. Kenneth Lusk says:

    Following your logic, I suppose that Jews should celebrate the medical advancements that resulted from the experiments of Josef Mengele, and African Americans should honor the Atlantic triangular slave trade because of the development of textiles and shipping practices that resulted from it. Are you sure you shouldn’t be signing up for a membership over at Stormfront? Your articles give me the sense that your ideas would be very popular over there.

  2. Dillon O'Carroll says:

    Columbus didn’t think he was in India he thought he was in the East Indies which is why we call where he landed the “West Indies.”

    This article assumes that having all of these things (domesticated animals, different crops propping up over the world) is actually a good thing. What about the fact that world trade, agriculture, and domesticated farm animals have caused massive damage to the environment? What about the exchange of diseases that decimated entire peoples? What about the slave trade and the easy transportation of rum causing the proliferation of the disease of alcoholism?

    Don’t just take an opinion cause you you think it’s edgy to be anti-social justice cause you’re “different.” You could actually think, right? That’s why you go to college?

    This is basic.

    • For better or for worse, the introduction of Eurasian crops, technologies, and livestock was, single- handedly, the most important event in the history of North America and the history of the American Indian.

    • Chris Robotham says:

      I think, as most people of all levels of knowledge do, that the domestication of animals (among other agricultural advancements) and the trade of goods across continents, with the notable exception of slaves, was a fundamentally good thing. It’s possible to arrive at this opinion without attempting to be “edgy”, just as it’s possible to arrive at yours without attempting to earn Brownie points with activists because you are afraid of the implications of openly disagreeing with social justice advocates.

  3. Dillon O'Carroll says:

    It’s like you took one world history course and accepted all of it as fact without ever stopping to question it. This article is cool if you believe in the regurgitation of a single narrative constructed to help one type of people justify the creation of structures to oppress people and destroy entire cultures and the environment and humanity and do it while claiming intellectual superiority to discredit legitimate, opposing claims.

    Golly gee.

  4. At least we still have free speech and don’t have to worry about the misguided liberal fools from trumping freedom of expression with their obsession with political correctness

  5. saddened reader says:

    I miss the days when the BDH’s can’t-believe-they-published-this opinions were at least well written.

    • Oliver Hudson, ’14 – A Legend in Trolling.

      • What he describes there is census suffrage, which was the norm in democracies everywhere until late 19th century. It’s not as outlandish an idea as it may seem today, and it can’t hurt to make more people aware of this. It’s not part of the collective memory, even so-called academics today have the historical consciousness of a goldfish.

  6. phewhomustnotbenamed says:

    kid luvs his livestock. must be a sheepshagger.

  7. Alumni '08 says:

    I’m disappointed that the Herald chose to hide away this embarrassment. If Maier is as ignorant as the Editor’s Note suggests, this should be obvious to readers. This is part of the marketplace of ideas. Please restore the shoddy column.

    • '`*-.,_,-*'`*~-.,.~*'*~ (2014) says:

      not sure how i feel about this particular case, but two years ago a BDH commenter made me reconsider my opinion about whether it’s necessarily productive to provide a stage for any given viewpoint. i had never thought twice about it – i’d always figured, you know, “the more discourse the better!!”… but maybe not. the comment is here; the article is ‘Ingber ’15: Free speech at Brown?’ (because yes, this comes up about 5x a year, whether it’s in response to a douchey BDH column or a student protest of a campus visitor or panelist). i recommend reading the whole thing, but here’s the first para:

      I think there is an undeniable liberal student attitude on campus but the idea that [the] solution is always presenting a counter position and argument seems woefully inadequate. The article doesn’t address the complications and potential negative effects of the classic journalistic impulse to always present “both sides” of the argument. The best example that comes to mind is with media coverage of climate change debates where scientists against global warming who were widely discredited by the scientific community were presented as having equal authority to their debate opponents. By presenting them as the counter argument it legitimated their arguments and presented them as having equal authority on the topic. This has helped perpetuate the idea in the American public that there is still a debate on the authenticity of climate change within the scientific community despite its almost 100% acceptance of climate change as fact. Presenting this counter argument has been extremely damaging to progress on climate change in ways that will really only become evident as time passes and we began to see the full consequences of inaction.

      of course, we’re brown students and we’re good critical thinkers, blah blah blah, so it’s not like we will blindly subscribe to the opinions of whatever the BDH chooses to publish. but yeah, it might sometimes be the case that journalistic integrity involves using your discretion to prevent someone from standing on their soapbox to propagate harmful ideas.

      • Sure, I agree with this. I think there’s a difference between proactively providing a platform to someone and hiding things away after you’ve been made a fool.

      • before even going into all of this, ask yourself: how many calls for nuclear power have you seen out of global warming advocates? precious few – the last time a NASA scientist tried, he was somehow called out as a climate denier…lol…

        Now, why is this relevant? Well, ‘green’ power (wind, solar) is incredibly expensive (dams aren’t but only so many locations), as are electric cars and renewable fuels.

        Because they’re so expensive, it will obviously be hard to implement them quickly and extensively enough to stem the climate tides; even with all the effort and hundreds of billions of dollars America has pumped in, we’ve only reached about 13% renewable energy usage. When you factor in the fact that climate scientists aren’t entirely sure when we will reach the breaking point (they have strong estimates but no certainty), and the unwillingness of many developing countries to make do with renewable energy, you would think that all measures possible should be taken to ensure the survival of our planet, right?

        Thus, nuclear. Sure, nuclear waste is nasty, and if there is a meltdown (very unlikely but still) it would be extremely unfortunate, but what is any of that against the end of the world? Not only that, but the cost of averting global warming, even if we managed it, would be tremendous; so much so that we could just divert part of that money towards nuclear, divert another part towards feeding every starving person on the planet, and have money left over for whatever is necessary. (Zika outbreak? have 10 billion and fix it. Tsunami in Japan? a little MONEY should take care of the flood damage and give everyone respectable funerals. Etc, Etc)

        yet, as I mentioned, any time this is brought up, it is roundly denounced by the high-up and official climate voices.

        why? well, could be because they don’t think global warming is real? hey, don’t take it from me, take it from Al Gore~

  8. By this logic the Jewish people should be happy about the Holocaust because it led to the creation of the modern state of Israel.

    I believe that some American right-wing pastor (Hagee??) has actually made this argument, that Hitler was doing God’s will because his actions led directly to the state of Israel that we know today.

    • oh, yeah, i’ve heard that argument before.

      i don’t entirely disagree, in a way. but at the same time, it was not a price worth paying, and more importantly, it still took the Jews so much time and blood of their own to establish and defend their state. If the holocaust had ended and Israel was then created and defended from assault by outside forces, there would be a very interesting case to be argued, though.

  9. Eric Muller says:

    BDH folks, I think you’ve made a mistake by taking the piece down. I understand that you didn’t intend to publish it, but you did. Mistakenly published or not, the piece has now become a matter of public debate. By taking the piece down you are depriving members of the Brown community (like me, an alum) from knowing what the debate’s about, and you’re guaranteeing that even the discussion taking place on campus will be based on hearsay-based, distorted accounts of what the author actually said.

    Put the piece back up.

  10. Here’s the article, if anyone wants to read it:

    • '`*-.,_,-*'`*~-.,.~*'*~ (2014) says:
    • Thanks! The internet doesn’t forget, but the BDH didn’t get that memo. They never heard of the Streisand effect either.

      Can’t find anything racist about the piece, in fact it’s PC propaganda. The author states apodictically that natives should get their land back, and should celebrate the Columbian Exchange, not the man.

      The piece is “accurate and thoughtful”.. by American standards! Columbus thought he’d reached the Indies, not India, please learn the frigging difference. Talk about editorial oversight! The ignorance of basic historical and geographic facts on display here is breathtaking. As if we needed more proof New World academia is a dump.

  11. “…it was unintentionally published due to an error.”

    Ugh, please use the active voice here. This sort of thing really annoys me…

  12. laconchetumare says:

    Spoiled kids you are, Brown faggots. Como to the land of real men, Oregon, you wouldn’t survive one minute. Faggots

  13. To have an unpopular opinion is fine. Brown values those that question the norm; however, this does not apply to those that attempt to oversimplify issues that they know very little about, while silencing those marginalized groups that do have a stake in this issue.”Plotting an ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’ demonstration over an egg and bacon breakfast is hypocrisy at its finest.” No. Using your privilege to write something that is so grossly oversimplified and uninformed while sitting on Native land is hypocrisy at its finest.

  14. The authors name is Emma Maier.

  15. Steve Mumford says:

    I thought it was pretty well-written. Insensitive, sure, but hey, you college students are here to have your preconceptions challenged, right?
    Here is a jpg of the original, for those who don’t want their paper censored.
    What amazing cowardice on the part of the Herald’s editors.

  16. Peter Mumford says:

    This article was tone deaf and misguided, but to withdraw it in this abject manner, and then publish a rebuttal (when the original is not longer available) is the stupidest of self-censorship.

  17. This article was written by Emma Maier of Brown University.

  18. I sincerely hope The Brown Daily Herald reconsiders the
    removal of M. Dzhali Maier’s commentary from the online edition after it was
    published for the print edition last Tuesday, October 6, 2015. While I agree
    the piece entitled “Columbian Exchange Day” was ill conceived and offensive, I
    believe the lesson you are conveying about censorship is far more damaging.

    Views like those expressed by Maier, a Brown 17’ who I am
    shocked to learn is a science and society major, need to be part of the dialog
    if we are to correct the errors of the past.

    I’m not sure where she got the idea that Columbus Day was
    established or even evolved to celebrate the Columbian Exchange but there is no
    evidence to back that claim other than her own personal experience.

    Meanwhile her column completely ignores the personal
    experience of the 12 million Arawak wiped out as a result of the practices
    established by Columbus who would be tried for war crimes if he were alive

    The atrocities committed by Christopher Columbus are well
    documented and I feel no need to repeat them here. I am however grateful to
    have been among the hundreds who took part in yesterday’s protest hosted by
    Native Americans at Brown (NAB) on the Brown University Green. I also signed
    their online petition to rename the fall weekend holiday that as of this
    morning has nearly 900 signatures. As a socially, culturally and politically active member of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe It is my sincere hope that by next year
    Brown University becomes like so many other cities and universities that
    corrects this long standing indignity to Native people and officially
    celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day.

  19. You’re speaking English. Columbian Exchange game. set. match

  20. Columbus was a sailor and in no way responsible
    for any “genocide”. The Spaniards who came after him may or may not have
    caused thousands of deaths of natives, but mostly by contagion of diseases.
    In any case, America would be discovered sooner or later, and populations would eventually mix. In fact now Mexicans (who are basically a mixture of the original natives + the Spaniards), are taking over the USA, or should we be against that too?
    Columbus’ discovery was nothing, a much worse crime is the current genocide of native white Europeans by invading Arabs and Africans. If Columbus discovery was a “genocide”, so is this.

  21. shame on you says:

    Shame on you for pulling this article and thereby shunning conversation on a controversial matter. Maier intended for her article to be provocative, and so it was. But the article also made important points that are worth thinking about. You decided that Brown students couldn’t handle these points, and maybe you’re right. So much the worse for them, and so much the worse for liberal values at Brown.

  22. Though we continue to strive to promote a venue for the free exchange of ideas

    That’s not true, though. Not from what I’m seeing here.

  23. Maier ’17: Columbian Exchange Day
    Mon, 10/05/2015 – 10:56pm

    Now that the weather has caught up to the calendar,
    I’m fully committed to another fall in Rhode Island. There’s a chill in
    the air, offset by the hot, steamy anxiety of the first good week of
    deadlines. I’ve got several papers and a few exams due this week alone.
    By the time Friday rolls around, I’m sure I’ll be praying for sweet
    death. Thank God for Columbus Day weekend. In my opinion, Columbus Day
    is the first holiday of the holiday weekend: a dry run of Thanksgiving,
    plus good booze and minus the gluttony.

    But since I’ve been at Brown, I’ve found my favorite
    holiday to be an extremely contentious point of controversy. The student
    group Native Americans at Brown has planned a demonstration Monday on
    the Main Green aimed at convincing the administration to change the name
    of the holiday from “Fall Weekend” to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” I’ll
    offer, right now, a good reason why this is an act of egregious
    revisionism. All Native Americans should celebrate Columbus Day, even if
    they have reservations about honoring Christopher Columbus himself.

    I’ve always thought Columbus Day was a celebration of the
    massive economic, political and cultural phenomenon known as the
    Columbian Exchange. What is this, you ask? The Columbian Exchange was
    the massive introduction of Old World organisms, culture and technology
    into the New World, as well as the game-changing introduction of New
    World plants and animals into the fields, gardens, minds and
    architectures of Old World Europe.

    These introductions, which still very much continue today,
    began with Christopher Columbus and his epic voyage to what he thought
    was India. Just what is the extent of the Columbian Exchange? Take just
    about any possible aspect of your daily life, here at Brown and
    otherwise, and it is probably the result of the Columbian Exchange.

    Let’s start with food. Every livestock animal, with the
    exception of the llama, is the result of the Columbian Exchange.
    Columbus himself brought pigs, horses and other animals onboard his
    ship. Cows, pigs, sheep and goats form the backbone of many an economy
    today. Horses, introduced by the Spanish on the voyages following
    Columbus, rewrote the story of the plains Indians of the Dakotas and
    Great Plains. Chicken, the most popular meat today, originated as the
    red jungle fowl of India and Southeast Asia. Just about every plant
    imaginable (from almonds to cabbage, carrots to coffee, wine grapes to
    ginger) is Old World in origin. Wheat, soybeans and even marijuana are
    Old World.

    This wasn’t just a one-way deal. Without the Columbian
    Exchange, there would be no Hungarian paprika, French vanilla, Italian
    tomato sauce or Belgian chocolate. New World plants, such as the potato
    (native to South America) revolutionized the diets of the Irish, the
    British and the Russians. Corn, now the king of American crops, found
    widespread success due to science and technology that originated in Old
    World Europe (where do you think the combine harvester came from?).

    From my conversations with Native Americans, those who
    protest Columbus Day often reconsider their positions when they take the
    Columbian Exchange into account. European technology, in the modern
    day, enables airplanes to access remote communities of First Peoples,
    providing them with medicine. Plains Indians (Navajo, Lakota, Pima and
    Sioux, to name a few) developed a whole culture around the horse, and
    wild herds still run free. The fact that a student at Brown (or any
    other school) can email a British university, arrange to study there,
    fly across the pond and thrive in England is a testament to the
    Columbian Exchange.

    Who discovered America? It is unpopular to say Columbus
    did. The Norse vikings? The ancient Chinese? The Siberians, who later
    became the Native Americans? The debate still rages on. The first foot
    on New World soil most certainly didn’t belong to Columbus. Regardless
    of whose feet they were, the important thing to note is that, in every
    proposed case except that of Columbus, the third foot on New World soil
    was not a hoof.

    Columbus, in firmly establishing himself in the New World
    and beckoning followers, ushered in the world as we know it today. Would
    every Columbian Exchange item have crossed the oceans without Columbus?
    Probably, but on a different timeline, and in different circumstances.
    History would have been wildly and unspeakably different.

    Much of the controversy surrounding Columbus Day has to do
    with Native American genocide and government appropriation of Native
    American lands. It is factually inaccurate, as well as wrongheaded, to
    deny the horrific truth of the crimes perpetrated by the American
    government. Should Native Americans get their lands back? Of course they
    should. But wishing to revert to a past circumstance, before Columbus,
    has hundreds of caveats (in the form of fruits, vegetables, animals and
    medicines), and wishing for a brighter future requires reconciliation
    with a modern world glimmering from stem to stern with Old World
    trimmings, atop foundations established by Columbus.

    Rather, keep Columbus Day. Celebrate the Columbian
    Exchange, not the man. It is the right of every person to interpret a
    holiday any way she chooses, but sitting down in the Sharpe Refectory
    and plotting an “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” demonstration over an egg and
    bacon breakfast is hypocrisy at its finest.

    M. Dzhali Maier ’17 is concentrating in science and society.

  24. European here. The Columbian Exchange gave us syphillis, where can I apply for compensatory payments?

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