in honor of the holiday... originally appeared on the "Bobbing for Lobsters" radio program on the mighty mighty KALX
INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS
JESSICA: Good evening and welcome to "Hot Seat," the Bobbing for Lobsters community affairs show that puts today's most controversial and dynamic public figures into "The Hot Seat." I'm your host, Jessica Choe. This week's guest is quite a notorious person in Berkeley. He's a Genoese sailor who rose to fame with his "discovery" of the New World in 1492, but his reputation has suffered in recent years. Please welcome to the show Christopher Columbus. Mr. Columbus, thanks for coming on the show.
COLUMBUS: Thanks for having me. There's been some bad blood between me and the city of Berkeley in the past, and I'd like to take this opportunity to clear the air, and correct some misconceptions about me.
JESSICA: Alright. Let's start off with the issue of genocide, Mr. Columbus. People have accused you of being responsible for the deaths of over eight million indigenous peoples in the Americas. How would you respond?
COLUMBUS: Well, to those charges, I'd have to say...um...my bad.
COLUMBUS: Yeah. You know, I was young and impulsive... I said some things I shouldn't have, cut off too many people's hands for petty offenses... anyway, like I said, my bad.
JESSICA: Alright...how would you answer allegations that you and your crew spread tens, if not hundreds of diseases through the North American continent?
COLUMBUS: Hmmm...again, I'd have to say, "guilty as charged!" (forced laughter) Listen, you have to understand that 1492 was a very different time....We didn't have the same medical knowledge that exists now - in fact, we treated most illnesses by a combination of bleeding and mystical incantations - but that's really no excuse...
JESSICA: What about the enslavement of thousands of Native Americans, and the barbaric treatment they received?
COLUMBUS: Um, again, this was a very different time. We thought that the residents of America were, at best, highly evolved monkey people who...I mean, the King and Queen of Spain used to call me "Dago Guinea Wop Explorer" in the court...but that's no excuse. Again, I'm sorry.
JESSICA: Mr. Columbus, it seems that you have no explanation at all for your legacy of exploitation and genocide.
COLUMBUS: Look, I'm just an illiterate, headstrong Italian with a weakness for grog. I sailed across the whole friggin' ocean in three leaky ships, contracted syphillis from a Seminole whore, and ended up penniless, in a dirty prison cell in Barcelona. Could you cut me a little slack?
JESSICA: I...I'm sorry, Mr. Columbus. I didn't realize...
COLUMBUS: Yeah, well, how do you think it makes me feel to have cruel graffiti written about me all over campus? That Berkeley doesn't even celebrate Columbus Day? That two entire continents are named after that no-good interloper Amerigo Vespucci?
JESSICA: I guess I've been a little unfair, Mr. Columbus. Perhaps the characterizations of you as an insensitive, racist murderer don't properly take into account important differences between our historical eras. Our contemporary perspective might be too narrow, our judgement too hasty. Let's move on to a new topic. What is your take on the affirmative action controversy in California?
COLUMBUS: Hmm...affirmative action. Well, there do seem to be an awful lot of Orientals in Berkeley.
JESSICA: (uncomfortable pause) Umm...
COLUMBUS: Are they planning to build another railroad soon? This place is simply brimming with coolies.
JESSICA: I think we've suddenly run out of time, Mr. Columbus. Thank you for joining us, and I hope you'll tune in for next week's show, when our guest will be TV's Judge Mills Lane. Good night everyone.