Thursday, December 28, 2017

Honoring Brutality

This morning, my wife and I visited the De Soto National Memorial Park, northwest of Bradenton, Florida, at the mouth of the Manatee River.  It is one of several sites along the Gulf Coast where the Spanish Conquistador, Hernando de Soto, was thought to have come ashore as he and his party explored Florida and the Southeast in the mid 1500s.

While our visit was prompted by river views and the Park's trail network, trail signage and the Memorial's Interpretive Center reminded us of the negative aspects of Spanish exploration in the New World.  Though one might focus on the courage and tenacity of the Conquistadors, we must also acknowledge the brutality that occurred as they plundered Native American civilizations and forcefully instilled their Catholic faith.

Earlier this year, following the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, many American cities began to remove the statues of Confederate war heroes, concluding that their historic and artistic value did not outweigh the cause for which those men fought.  It seems to me that the actions of Spanish Conquistadors were at least as atrocious and that they do not deserve public memorials to honor their conquests.  Museums, which (hopefully) offer a complete picture of their historical "adventures," are better suited to define their role in history.