Here is a relatively unbiased article on Columbus Day and the surrounding controversy. Should the US retain this holiday?
My initial thought is state and Federal government workers like this holiday too much for it to be rescinded. In the Northeast, it is a fine time to go leaf peeping. For others, it breaks up the time between Labor Day and Veteran’s Day.
However, Christopher Columbus is a controversial figure. I don’t think he is as evil as most Indian groups state. I also don’t think he is worthy of a holiday. He is the only non American honored with a holiday.
Given that a national holiday will probably remain in this part of October, what could the alternatives be? I don’t like Indigenous Peoples Day. That smacks of hyper Political Correctness. Native tribes in the United States at the time of Columbus also committed acts of brutality as the Europeans are accused of.
What’s next? Ending celebrations of Independence Day because they might offend the sensibilities of Americans of English descent?
The fact is that Columbus was a major figure in American and world history. He succeeded in uniting the old world and the new world (there were people who discovered the Americas before Columbus, but after he did it, it stayed discovered). It’s undeniably true that things went downhill for the native Americans after the Europeans arrived but it’s unfair to blame Columbus for everything that happened in the last 500 years. It’s probably unfair to blame anyone for the destruction of native American societies, when most of the damage was done by disease in an era when nobody understood what a germ was.
I’m all for renaming it “Native American Heritage Day.” I don’t think that smacks of PC-ness, either. If not for the Native Americans, we (by which I mean the colonists) would probably not have lasted until the first Thanksgiving, so I believe some kind of (additional) acknowledgement would be in order. Or, we could go back to celebrating Thanksgiving in October, like we used to. In any event, I think we should celebrate with a giant-ass lacrosse tournament.
As for government workers enjoying the holiday - I can think of quite a few who rather have off on “Super Bowl Monday” instead.
I’ve always been surprised that the NFL hasn’t had the Super Bowl fall on the Sunday before MLK Jr. day. I guess with the bye weeks, starting the season after Labor Day, and wanting the extra week between the conference championships and the Super Bowl, it isn’t really possible.
Or “Discovery Day”… I agree with what Nemo said. A lot of ugliness came out of Columbus’ discovery of North America (as told by the history books.) But it’s not like he boarded his ship and wrote in his log, “Boy I can’t wait to get around the world and start wiping me out some injuns.”
It took guts to go on the trip he took and he knew the risks he was taking – but he also helped prove the world was a sphere back in the day when saying such things could get you in trouble with the authorities for incorrect thinking. And if that ain’t fighting ignorance I don’t know what is.
I think the event itself is worth commemorating and is a part of our history. Teach the bad with the good. Though I think what’s REALLY important to people is getting the time off. Folks would celebrate “Coat Hanger Invention Day” if it got 'em out of work…
So, why can’t we apply the same logic to Columbus?
(i.e. evaluate him in light of his time and place, by the standards of Fifteenth-Century Europe. Even though it’s hard to see how any honest account of his life, his deeds, and his words would be clean of bloodiness, he still stands out as a visionary)
Uhm. Not weighing in on the whole item about whether Columbus Day should be a holiday or not (my University couldn’t care less ), but in the interest of fighting ignorance…
The educated portion of Europe was quite aware that the world was a sphere. Indeed, I believe a Greek mathematician had calculated the equator’s length in the heyday of Hellenistic culture. Maybe the poorer classes without a classical education believed in a flat earth, but any scholar would’ve known much better than that. One of the major myths perpetuated by elementary school history.
I’m always in favor of holidays and celebrations, but let’s keep them honest. Make it a point to reeducate those teachers who still have misconceptions so that they don’t pass on the myths.
Columbus didn’t establish that the world was a sphere.
Columbus didn’t discover America.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a celebration of Italian contributions in general on that day instead. Everybody could speak with a little Italian flair all day, sing opera, feast with family and friends, and do some things that are not cliches too.
Would we have to start doing this for other immigrant groups? Probably. Hey! More holidays! Yea!
Yeah, I’d like a sort of “explorers and discoverers” day. Celebrate anyone who took a chance, got curious, explored the unknown. Lewis and Clark, Shackleton, the guy who found the Northwest Passage, Ponce De Leon, Gallileo. And not just the dead white guys, I’m just rambling names off the top of my head.