The Columbus Day holiday has always been controversial. Observances are far from uniform across the country. South Dakota marks the occasion as “Native American Day.” In Denver, Colorado’s annual Columbus Day parade is met by protesters decrying the genocide of indigenous peoples. In upstate New York, a Native American poetry festival pays tribute to Columbus’s victims.
At the same time, many Italian-American communities fiercely defend Columbus Day, wanting to preserve the country’s most powerful symbol of the enormous contributions successive waves of Italian immigrants have made to the creation and evolution of America.
I sympathize, but still think we need to reconsider Columbus Day. Abolishing it may not be the best idea, but using the occasion to try to foster a real understanding of history would be altogether appropriate and wouldn’t require the demeaning of the proud legacy of Italian-Americans.
1. Jay Smoove, Reconsider Columbus Day
2. Savage Media, The Requiremento of 2012
3. The Sopranos, Columbus Day
4. Democracy Now, Indigenous Urge Teaching of the Americas’ Genocide
5. Crass, Where Next Columbus?