Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

October 16, 2013

House of Burgess: Sailing right past Columbus Day

The federal holiday an outmoded relic.

Columbus Day was Monday. Did you celebrate? I sure didn’t. You can’t believe how much I didn’t celebrate the life and work of one Cristoforo Colombo.

See, I generally try to make a point not to give respect to the memory of greedy, lying, thieving, genocidal murderers; but, then, that’s just me. I’m weird like that.

“They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance,” wrote Columbus in his logbook, about the indigenous peoples he met. “They would make fine servants. ... With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

Columbus systematically destroyed scores of these natives through disease, torture, rape, theft, slavery, mutilation and slaughter. In response to these facts, some far-flung locales have gone so far as to eschew the federally recognized Columbus Day in exchange for: Discoverer’s Day (Hawaii), Puerto Rico Friendship Day (U.S. Virgin Islands), Native American Day (South Dakota), Indigenous People’s Day (Berkeley, Calif.) and Alaska celebrated something called Monday because it doesn’t recognize the holiday at all.

Matthew Inman, aka The Oatmeal, wrote a wonderful comic entitled “Christopher Columbus was awful (but this other guy was not.)” In it, he effectively broke down the case against Columbus. He also proposed an alternate holiday instead celebrating Friar Bartolomé de las Casas, the Spanish historian and appointed “Protector of the Indians.”

Now, I understand every side wants its own holiday. I would love to have a day to celebrate the indigenous people of this land. (Schedule it for the opposite side of the calendar, perhaps?) And I agree with Casas’ merits for celebration. He certainly had his faults, too, like bringing the African slave trade to this continent. (He later repented, but that’s another story.) However, I think something else must be considered — and it has to do with another battered American demographic: Italian-Americans.

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