Columbus Day, otherwise known as Indigenous People’s Day, was recently celebrated, or should I say protested. Nothing quite says PC-overload like renaming a holiday just so people aren’t offended. Well, that’s not completely true. Has anyone thought to ask the Italian community how they feel about this re-naming and shaming? Italians might be offended, but apparently that doesn’t matter. Christopher Columbus, once considered an Italian hero, is now in the category of genocidal murderers. Yes, just like Hitler, Mao and Milosevic. Those who slaughtered millions with the intent to annihilate, dominate and to eradicate populations. Is this the category Columbus should be placed? Should the holiday now be renamed to Italian Genocidal Murderer Day?
Do you recall sitting in history class and learning about Columbus’s voyage and discovery of America? In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue? Little did we all know that Columbus’s true intentions were murder. His secret aspirations were to become a genocidal maniac and destroy populations and be a legendary criminal. At least that’s what the protestors and politicians are trying to make us believe. Fame and glory yes, but genocidal? I’m not quite sure about that. Haven’t we gone too far with all of this? No one is saying that Columbus was a saint. Regardless of historic knowledge, none of us were there to witness the victories or atrocities, however one wants to frame this. Wait! There might be one person who knows: Elizabeth Warren. She’s demanding the renaming of this holiday to Indigenous People’s Day. She’s indigenous, so clearly, she knows what happened.
Historical speculation is dangerous. Like all events in history, we must provide context and refrain from criticism. Is renaming the holiday or even taking it away proving anything? Columbus, Ohio is so consumed with outrage they want to rename the city. There is a petition online that states: “Public awareness has risen dramatically over the past few years that the man for whom our city was named was in fact a reprehensible scoundrel, who engendered the torture and slaughter of those who sought to welcome a stranger, and set an appalling precedent of enslavement and exploitation at the onset of European migration to this continent. We have tremendous pride in our city, and we should feel shame every time we hear the name of our home town associated with this historic monster. We believe that something can, and should, be done to rectify the situation.” This begs the question: is this public awareness or ignorance?
New York, Boston and other cities around the country are grappling with what to do with Columbus statues. While vandals repeatedly deface and destroy these figures it reminds us, again to ask, what to do with history and our past. Taking down a Columbus statue does not change events, nor should it. Removing the holiday from the calendar does not re-route Columbus’s voyage. Should Italians now feel shameful of their heritage because of Columbus? I say no.
History is rife with victors and villains. Removal, renaming and vandalizing does not change the facts. The outrage that is directed at Columbus Day signifies a dangerous current that is spreading like a virus in America. If we are not using days such as Columbus Day to educate and to acknowledge our country, then what do we have? Discourse is in danger. Now everyone is angry with Christopher Columbus. Does this sound ridiculous to anyone? Truly, it should.
Let’s be honest: changing Columbus Day is not going to fix any of our country’s problems. While we may question who Columbus was and debate what he did right or wrong, changing the holiday or condemning his actions does not strip him of his status as a figure in history that contributed to exploration. If we continue to re-write history and project anger onto every event, then what do we have to show for America? We are not perfect, history is not perfect. Discovery, war and major shifts that are revolutionary all come with a double-edged understanding and ways to achieving progress. However, renaming Columbus Day will not fix anything and protesting its acknowledgment does not take away or change events. Instead, it promotes ignorance and is another attempt at the dismantling of American history.
Lauren E. Forcucci is an educator, writer, and proud American. She is the daughter of an immigrant, the granddaughter of a veteran, and a friend and supporter of active-duty military, veterans, and police. She’s also a proud Whiskey Patriot.