Columbus Day: Should We or Shouldn’t We?

So, Happy Columbus Day- er, um.. Whatever.

I mean what are you supposed to say on a day that we widely neither celebrate, well except for no school and no mail and all, and also leaves us with this uneasy feeling of some really bad stuff.

Fourteen hundred ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

At least that much was true.

I understand though, that he was really a big prick, brought rampant disease to this continent, forced a new religion on folks, and killed, tortured and enslaved a bunch of native people.  Really bad stuff.  Columbus & Co.’s actions ultimately lead to the colonization of American and life as we know it, this can‘t be denied, but it also contributed to the deaths of millions of indigenous people.  So this brings me to the crossroads of should we or shouldn’t we?

Every year I hear more and more opposition to celebrating Columbus Day.  Or maybe I’m just learning more and more of the truth of what really happened, and with age am able to learn about opposing viewpoints.  Columbus is definitely a part of American History.  Good bad ugly, he does represent something this country was large in part founded on.  Let’s not pretend here that a big part of the makings of American history wasn’t very very ugly.  Slavery, wars, death: yup, it’s all in there.  We are here, this big big melting pot, but we know that there’s still some major scars left from the way we all ended up here.  No, Columbus didn’t single-handedly conquer and kill an entire population of people, but it’s the idea that we celebrate a pretty bad guy in a pretty positive way.  Still.

A few states do oppose honoring Columbus and refer to today as Native American Day or Discover’s Day or Indigenous People’s Day.  Does taking Columbus’ name out of this day change the way we look at the past?  Change whether or not today should be celebrated with joy, or maybe just remembered with solace instead.  Would changing the name stop elementary teachers from handing out Columbus’ picture for kids to color and learn the above rhyme with glee?  Maybe instead they would learn that he didn’t quite discover this land, but found a place that was already inhabited and force it from the people that were already here, or didn’t really land onto soil that was even actually what we call the United States today?

Was Christopher Columbus a hero?  No way.  Is it important to learn and remember history, even and especially the bad stuff?  Certainly.

I personally am using today as a day to reflect on the true horrors that indigenous people had to go through in American history.  Remembering, reflecting, and also not going to the bank or the post office, cause well, they’re closed of course.


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