Anti-Columbus Day: A discovery of intolerance
“Christopher Columbus: Hero or Villain?”
That deliberately misleading, no-win question is being asked to young students across the country.
Those choosing “villain” are shortchanged, as Columbus’ myriad accomplishments are overshadowed by his “bad deeds.”
And anyone in the “hero” camp becomes hopelessly ensnared in the trap of political correctness. With their viewpoint often derided as condoning “racism,” students become pariahs among classmates and teachers, and are shamed for their independent thought.
When the free flow of ideas can no longer take place, and where retribution for speaking one’s mind is a real possibility, is it any wonder that we are graduating functional illiterates?
But indoctrinating an entire generation of children isn’t enough. For some, destruction and physical violence are preferred. And on Columbus Day in Philadelphia – America’s cradle of liberty – the radicals did not disappoint.
A statue of Columbus – already fenced in for protection from vandals – was desecrated, along with the History of Italian American Immigration Museum, as extremists graffitied them with “Genocide;” “Rape;” “Stolen Land;” “Slavery;” and, best of all, “Columbus = Mussolini = Trump = Fascism.”
Let’s get this straight. The same people who demonize Christopher Columbus for his “intolerances” think that the way to “correct” history is through – you guessed it – intolerance.
Their hypocrisy is staggering, their actions counterproductive, and their message appalling.
An increasing number of cities throughout America are abolishing Columbus Day in favor of “Indigenous People’s Day,” which ostensibly celebrates the history and contributions of indigenous cultures, while ruthlessly criticizing European settlers for colonialism and land grabs.
Without question, the Europeans and, subsequently, Americans, did not always do the right thing, especially to Native Americans. Atrocities were committed (on both sides), and nothing can ever fully right those wrongs.
But America, despite the errors of its past, has shown a most remarkable resilience – more than any nation in history – to not just learn from its mistakes, but make things right and yes, better, for future generations.
Where does it end? If we take their litmus tests to their logical conclusions – that everyone from the Confederates to Columbus to anyone who ever owned slaves must be vilified and discarded – we must destroy most of our history.
The Jefferson Memorial should be repurposed; Andrew Jackson must be removed from the $20 bill; the Washington Monument, and indeed the nation’s capital itself, should be renamed; and the Ivy League’s Brown University should close because it operated via slavetrade money.
And yes, the World War II monument would have to come down because of our treatment of Japanese-American citizens in internment camps.
Instead of bans, we should be striving to win the day with ideas, but too many are scared to do so.
Should there be an Indigenous People’s Day? Absolutely. We would all be better served by learning about Native American history and culture. And yes, their unfortunate struggles with Europeans and Americans should be prominent in those teachings.
But Indigenous People’s Day and Columbus Day should not come down to a choice that pits one side against the other. We are mature enough to celebrate both the European and Native American cultures; to be fair, each should have its own celebration.
The answer is not reparations. It isn’t to give back lands that were seized.
And it certainly isn’t disingenuously portraying historical figures in a one-sided way, eviscerating those of a certain ethnicity (and via guilt-by-association, their present day progeny), while making others appear innocent and angelic.
Human beings, by their nature, are flawed, but they also possess the unique desire to better themselves. Rather than devolve into the basest of human behavior, let’s demonstrate the ultimate in tolerance by civilly discussing the good, and not-sogood, of history’s most famous figures.
We could start by putting their accomplishments and errors in proper context, free of absolutes and platitudes, so that our children can learn the most important lesson of all: truth.
As Americans, we owe that to both the Native peoples, and Christopher Columbus.