Upon reading the opinion piece, "Columbus was merely the first to do the inevitable," I was shocked. I couldn't understand how the Daily Athenaeum could publish a work attempting to promote Columbus apologia—the justification of Christopher Columbus's actions—within a framework treading, or even crossing, the line of white supremacy. I was not alone in my opinion regarding the content, yet it may still seem hyperbolic to judge the piece with such words, which makes sense considering the prevalence of its long-lived narrative.
The ideas shared in the article weren't new, and many reading this have probably even encountered them during their schooling. They stem directly from the narrative that Indigenous peoples were savage and uncivilized and that a superior culture was destined to "civilize" them. We know this narrative to be wrong today, but it was used during and after Columbus's time to excuse the enslavement, slaughter, and oppression that would kill tens of millions and wipe out nearly all Indigenous populations in the Americas.
The Daily Athenaeum must keep its readers informed on topics such as this, but it is also its responsibility to consider the nature of the pieces they distribute. In this instance, a mistake was made, and a hurtful narrative was given a platform. Fortunately, the overwhelming response to the opinion shows that the perspective on Indigenous issues has shifted. The understanding that these issues are topics of today—issues that still need to be amended—will inspire the change that should've been made long ago.
Matthew Kolb is a chemical engineering student at WVU.