While resentment about the once-revered explorer, Christopher Columbus has burned in the hearts of Native Americans for centuries, it has only begun to smolder the outer rib cages of non-native Americans for the past decade or so. Why the recent up-tick-off? Some say we are becoming more united as Americans and more empathetic to our fellow humans. Meanwhile, Scott Brown supporters have stated that it’s a ruse by white liberal college professors to brainwash students in US History classes as a way of garnering the minority vote for Democratic candidates. But who listens to Scott Brown supporters? I mean really.
Scientists from the American Institute for Collective Reason and Emotion (AICRE) have been watching this public trend for a long time and their spokesperson, Sheila Wallaby, told reporters today that AICRE has identified a pattern of stages for this collective experience of historical figures. This pattern is called Americans Collective Experience of Historical Figures and/or Events. Wallaby noted that Columbus, who is more widely recognized by the public than is the current president, provides one of the best examples for this pattern.
She explained, “It took 500 years for Americans to disassociate from the perception that they personally benefited from the selfish exploits of Columbus, so now we have entered the stage we call ‘Collective Disillusionment’.”
Wallaby went on to explain that in the Collective Disillusionment stage, Americans will share stories with each other about what really happened when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Americans will share and marinate in these truth-telling stories, for 50 years or so, a number she says has decreased because of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. “Eventually, every October or even late September, people will wonder how many Columbus stories they will have to endure, or hide from their Twitterfeed,” Wallaby called this phenomenon “collective information fatigue”.
This ‘Collective Disillusionment Stage” will give way by the turn of the next century AICRE predicts. According to Wallaby, by the turn of the century we could experience a full-on rage, and there will likely be riots about Columbus and any leaders from more recent history who seem to emulate his exploits and abuses.. I asked Wallaby if she could see a time of forgiveness and healing. To my surprise, she said yes, “We have a stage for that and we have even named it after Columbus!”
The “Columbus Forgiveness Stage” has been predicted by AICRE using historic and scientific models. “Because it has taken 520 years to get to a stage that will last 50 years or so, and collective forgiveness can take 30 percent longer to develop than resentment, we project “Columbus Forgiveness Stage” to begin around the year 2800.”
As with all scientific projections, there is a margin of error. Wallaby explained that collective Americans are prone to what she calls ‘historic regression’. She offered as an example, “what we’ve seen with the recent fall back to the 1950’s in public policy proposals, as well as the modern-day reverence for the American Revolution. Regressions like these could set us back by decades on our road to finally, collectively forgiving Columbus.”