Abolish Columbus Day? 5 Takes on the Holiday

Italian-American group may suggest renaming it
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2015 11:50 AM CDT
Abolish Columbus Day? 5 Takes on the Holiday
A depiction of Christopher Columbus.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Today is Columbus Day, but is this a holiday on the way out? USA Today notes that nine cities across the US have now named this Indigenous Peoples Day, including Albuquerque and Portland, Ore., and the movement looks likely to grow. Some samples of the back-and-forth about the second Monday in October:

  • 'Murderer': "Today, America celebrates a liar, a murderer and a near end to entire populations of people," writes Aliyah Chavez, an indigenous woman, at MTV. Columbus came here for gold and conquest. "Well, Columbus, I would like to say: Joke’s on you. ... My ancestors sacrificed so that I could be here to say no longer will we celebrate your expedition. We will celebrate the resilience of our people, our strength and our dedication to the communities from which we came."

  • Ditto: "Jig’s up, America," writes Sarah Sunshine Manning at Indian Country Today. "Christopher Columbus was a genocidal madman. America’s first and original terrorist. And as our global consciousness and awareness of humanity expands, it is time we give up defending Christopher Columbus as anything but otherwise."
  • Defenders: Those who back the holiday are generally Italian-American groups who celebrate it as a part of Italian heritage, not colonialism. "We're like the collateral damage of this trend," the president of the National Italian American Foundation tells Reuters. The foundation may suggest renaming the day Italian American Day to take the focus off Columbus.
  • Key point for activists: About half the states don't officially mark the day, reports the Washington Post, removing a "big roadblock" in the push to abolish the national holiday. Also, polls show most Americans don't care much about the holiday itself.
  • Most important day: At the Intercept, Jon Schwarz writes how Columbus' arrival changed everything, leading to the eventual domination of nearly the entire world by Europe and the US. "This is why I say October 12, 1492, is the most important day in history, and October 12 is the most important day of every year. We shouldn’t celebrate it. But if we want to comprehend the world—and we should, since our lives depend on it—we have to understand it."
(More Columbus Day stories.)

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