Gastonia, NC Correspondent– The brouhaha over Columbus Day has been going on for decades, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. The promotion of more politically correct objects of honor in place of Columbus has been a cause celebre among the wine, cheese and false equivalency crowd, the same folks who get their knickers in a twist over the Washington, D.C., football team’s name.
I’m not a huge fan of Columbus Day, myself, but for me it’s from a historical perspective. Why don’t we celebrate Leif Erickson or any of the dozens of other Vikings and other people who made it to these shores long before Columbus? Good old Chris was a profiteering second-rate sailor who got lost on the way to where he thought he was going and ended up here. We’re basically celebrating a guy who went into his yard looking for his hose nozzle and found a pot of gold.
That said, the spirit of exploration for which Columbus stands is something our country is in dire need of. We’re becoming a nation of couch-dwelling safety freaks, scared to venture anywhere our smartphones don’t get at least three bars of service. The only reason space travel is progressing is because of private money, and our exploration of our own planet is dawdling along. If there’s a chance we might get bitten, stung, poked, crawled upon or have mud squished into our shoes, we recoil in terror.
Columbus’ ships set out with rudimentary navigational instruments, ships that would fit in the hold of today’s cargo vessels and food that could best be described as depressing. They were becalmed, beset by storms and endured discontent among the crew. And yet … and yet … somehow they made it. The next time you get all sweaty-palmed because your nav system cuts out deep in the woods or your phone can’t get service out on the beach, take a deep breath, smell the salt air and imagine untold riches just over the horizon. There might not actually BE any riches, but at least you’ll stop whining for a little while.
Owatonna, MN Correspondent-I’m always in favor of states exercising their sovereignty by passing laws that differ from federal laws, especially when it comes to minor decisions like which holidays to celebrate. The fact that several states have eliminated Columbus Day and opted for either no holiday observance or a more pertinent observance such as South Dakota’s Native American Day gives at least a small feeling of self-determination to those states.
I don’t think state and local governments are taking another stab at repressing America’s early history. I see it as more accurately cataloging American history. It’s true that Columbus was the first European to set foot in North America, but it is inaccurate to say he “discovered America.” The continent had been inhabited by numerous tribes of people for thousands of years. Most of them came to North America from northeast Asia across the Bering Strait.
“History is written by the victors,” is a well-known quote that indicates how most history is written—to aggrandize those who won the battle while demonizing the losers. Europeans eventually conquered North America and nearly destroyed all the original populations. So, the white ruling class wrote and continues to record our history with a huge bias toward the notion that the United States is always strong, victorious, noble, honorable, and benevolent.
The more accurate history is American domination of this continent via Manifest Destiny resulted in genocide that nearly wiped out an entire culture of people. The rethinking of propaganda-oriented holidays such as Columbus Day is a small first step toward Americans realizing the United States is not a perfect country and that government—the federal government in particular—is often more concerned with perception than reality.
Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent– Columbus Day is another holiday that has been attacked for being politically incorrect and damaging to the psyche of Americans bent on destroying, erasing and whitewashing history, though today many Columbus Day celebrations are being replaced with “Indigenous Peoples Day” in a number of cities and states in retaliation of what many believe to be the sins of Columbus.
Delegating Columbus to the ash heap of history, and raking him over the coals seems to be more of what has occurred over the years, and the debate has continued as to whether any worthiness should be given to Columbus at all, other than that he was a good navigator, established knowledge of trade winds, made world changing voyages to the New World and impacted trade, population shifts and transfer of plant and animal life through his expeditions. Other than those exchanges, Columbus has undergone scrutiny on every level and has become one of the most controversial figures in American history.
Columbus was apparently a different person from the sailing hero that was portrayed in early history textbooks. Though he did not come to shore in America as such, he did plant his feet on land in the Bahamas and interacted throughout his voyages with the indigenous people in the various areas he came to conquer and possess.
Throughout his voyages, the encounters with indigenous peoples are what gave rise to controversies as Columbus was bent on overtaking their lands and finding riches, and in those encounters Columbus and others with him treated these indigenous groups miserably and savagely. He called them Indians and was involved in using violence, slavery, forced conversions and exposure to a number of diseases to break their spirits and assume holdings on their lands and resources
Evidence has been uncovered by historians as to the damage that Columbus and his fellow explorers wrought and these findings have led to protests and complaints especially on the emphasis of studying him in public schooling and celebrating a national holidays because of his discoveries.
Rather than suppression of early American history, and burying the Columbus myths and pretending that Columbus was more than the ruthless explorer and conqueror that he was, many Native Americans and other groups have tried to know and understand the true character of Columbus. In light of the various historical findings, many would rather see the federal holiday done away with and replaced with Indigenous Peoples Day observations.
The federal holiday has been entrenched since 1937 when the Knights of Columbus lobbied for Columbus Day to be declared a holiday, and by 1968 the Italian-American holiday was firmly in place with passage of observation of Columbus Day as an official public holiday. Since that time, efforts have been made to eliminate it or rename it, but that has been met with resistance from Italian-Americans and others who believe Columbus was an important figure in their Italian heritage. So, Columbus Day will not face repeal or wholesale shaming any time soon.
Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent– If most states have eliminated and are moving toward eliminating Columbus Day, it is for a good reason. Eliminating that holiday in its entirety is nothing to weep about.
In fact, that’s not an act to suppress America’s ‘history’ but ideally to remove a holiday that promotes misplaced patriotism and loyalty to a nation that did nothing but bully other nations into condescending. For many, observing such a holiday is a blatant reminder of how Columbus dealt a great blow to the indigenous people, through oppression and injustice.
Anyone raving about Columbus Day is obviously sticking their head in the sand, as it were, pretending that events years ago didn’t occur.
Recognizing Columbus Day also reveals the man behind the curtains, Yes, Columbus, is in fact the bringer of destruction to the indigenous people. This reveals him as an exploiter, bringer of slavery, and diseases to the Americas. He exploited the indigenous people to the extent where he misapplied the Bible to promote his affairs and climb up the social ladder.
He went to great lengths to accomplish great things, at the expense of a group of people. Would you really want to partake of such a holiday?
I condone and agree with what these states are doing. This is a bloody and distasteful part of America’s history and even though it reveals the truth for those who wish to see, it’s best left behind closed doors.
What Columbus Day stands for should never be celebrated.