As we previously learned from the activists in New York City, Christopher Columbus is no longer an acceptable topic of conversation in polite company. Because of his treatment of indigenous people during his adventures of discovery, he’s apparently right up there with the slaveholders who would follow him in America. For these sins he must be wiped from the pages of history.
But how do you fight a holiday? Statues and flags can be taken down, but what do you do about Columbus Day? Well, if you’re the City of Los Angeles you simply come up with a new name for it. Problem solved! The effort is being led by City Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Wyandotte Nation. (LA Times)
Now the two councilmen, one from a neighborhood next to the port, the other representing the increasingly affluent Echo Park-to-Hollywood area, are at odds over an incendiary issue: Columbus Day.
O’Farrell wants the council to rename the holiday, at least on the city calendar, as Indigenous Peoples Day, arguing that Columbus’ arrival in 1492 resulted in centuries of anguish for the continent’s native population. Buscaino, on the other hand, has been pushing for a different name change — last week, he floated Diversity Day — to prevent Italian Americans who have long celebrated Columbus Day from feeling excluded or replaced.
Most of the criticism of Columbus coming out of this brouhaha has to do with the smallpox epidemic which arrived with Columbus and the subsequent subjugation of the indigenous peoples. I’m not going to whitewash this for you (if you’ll pardon the phrase) and pretend none of that happened. But first of all, Columbus had no idea that the natives would be so completely susceptible to smallpox. That was just an unfortunate fact of biology. (Yes, there would be some Americans later who supposedly intentionally gave infected blankets to native tribes, but that’s a different discussion.)
As to the subjugation of the natives, yes, that happened also. Of course, it happened everywhere a more technologically advanced society collided with a more primitive one. Columbus was hardly unique in that regard. If that’s the measuring stick we’re using then the entire founding of the United States was a war crime and virtually all the people associated with it are war criminals to one extent or another in the minds of the progressive movement. (If that sounds like hyperbole to you, go ask some of them . I’d bet that a fair number would agree with that statement.)
So is this it? This is where the bar is set? I suppose we’ll just wipe Columbus from the history books along with the entire Confederacy. Pretend he never existed and the Europeans who came here all arrived on magic, flying unicorns. I’m not sure what the population breakdown is in Los Angeles, but I’m guessing you have plenty of Italians living there. You might want to check and see how most of them feel about it before you start yet another culture war.