Lies My Teacher Told Me

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Christopher Columbus Character Analysis

World-famous explorer and colonizer, who led a series of successful European expeditions to the Americas, and subsequently instituted a series of brutal, genocidal policies designed to dominate and enslave the Native Americans. Loewen acknowledges that Columbus was one of the most important figures in world history, but not for the reasons that most American history textbooks suggest: Columbus was so important not because he “discovered America” but because his expeditions to the Americas established a standard of brutality, theft, and genocide that would characterize the Europeans’ relationship with the Native Americans for centuries to come.

Christopher Columbus Quotes in Lies My Teacher Told Me

The Lies My Teacher Told Me quotes below are all either spoken by Christopher Columbus or refer to Christopher Columbus . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Touchstone edition of Lies My Teacher Told Me published in 2007.
Chapter 2 Quotes

The textbooks concede that Columbus did not start from scratch. Every textbook account of the European exploration of the Americas begins with Prince Henry the Navigator, of Portugal, between 1415 and 1460. Henry is portrayed as discovering Madeira and the Azores and sending out ships to circumnavigate Africa for the first time. The textbook authors seem unaware that ancient Phoenicians and Egyptians sailed at least as far as Ireland and England.

Related Characters: Christopher Columbus , Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Loewen analyzes textbooks’ treatment of the European exploration of the Americas. History textbooks make the mistake of saying that Europeans—such as Prince Henry the Navigator, an important Portuguese monarch and maritime pioneer—were the “first” people to undertake important maritime expeditions across the world, ignoring the achievements of the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, and many other ancient, non-Western societies.

The further implication of history textbooks’ Eurocentric view of world exploration is that, absurd as it sounds, Europe “invented technology.” Instead of celebrating other cultures for contributing to European science, mathematics, and technology, the average American history textbook implies that white, Western Europeans (including Americans, many of whom are descended from white Europeans) developed virtually all the key technologies of the modern world. By ignoring the non-Western predecessors to European exploration, textbooks reinforce the idea that Europe pioneered world exploration, and the technology to go with it, single-handedly.

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Christopher Columbus Character Timeline in Lies My Teacher Told Me

The timeline below shows where the character Christopher Columbus appears in Lies My Teacher Told Me. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Handicapped by History
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...are, rarely choose figures such as Helen Keller, Woodrow Wilson, Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Christopher Columbus. Indeed, some students tell cruel “Helen Keller jokes”—not necessarily because they hate disabled people, but... (full context)
Chapter 2: 1493
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Every American schoolchild must learn a few facts about Christopher Columbus: he sailed to America in 1492, he had three ships, he was funded by the... (full context)
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The first big mistake that history textbooks make with regard to Columbus’s life is to ignore the achievements of of previous explorers. Europeans, such as the Vikings,... (full context)
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...to explore the Americas in the 15th century, most misrepresent the facts. They suggest that Columbus sailed for America because Europeans were “bursting with curiosity about the world,” because they needed... (full context)
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What were the cultural and economic factors that led Columbus to explore the Americas in 1492? First, military technology: around 1400, European monarchs commissioned bigger... (full context)
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Another key factor motivating Columbus’s voyage was the buildup of social technology, such as bookkeeping and printing. A third factor... (full context)
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...there’s been considerable historical evidence in recent years that other nations had “discovered” America before Columbus, textbooks emphasize the importance of Columbus and marginalize other explorers. Textbooks either omit mentions of... (full context)
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...While there is robust evidence for a West African presence in the Americas prior to Columbus, there is relatively little evidence for Irish exploration—just a handful of legends. And yet almost... (full context)
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Textbooks portray Columbus as a hero who boldly explored the Americas. They say that he was the son... (full context)
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Columbus’s most lasting legacy was not his discovery of America, however; it was his exploitation and... (full context)
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...has been discussing so far is readily available—there is no controversy about the fact that Columbus was a murderer and a racist. And yet history textbooks continue to praise him, or... (full context)
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Columbus’s decision to journey across the Atlantic Ocean was undeniably brave, and yet his conquest was... (full context)
Chapter 5: Gone With the Wind
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...also ignore the racism in the thinking of figures as different as Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, and Woodrow Wilson. Many students would be surprised to learn that almost all the presidents... (full context)
Chapter 6: John Brown and Abraham Lincoln
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...the murderous legacy of John Brown, considering that they do glorify the genocide of Christopher Columbus. (full context)
Chapter 12: Why Is History Taught Like This?
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...be rejected for telling the truth, and so they stick to the standard narratives about Columbus, Lincoln, etc. (full context)
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...to controversial material. Thus, one of the reasons why children don’t grow up learning about Columbus’s genocide is that most people believe that children shouldn’t see pictures of hangings and corpses.... (full context)