Getting Rid of Columbus Day Entirely Is a Sad Development
Published in The Washington Post
on October 14, 2019
Today is Columbus Day — except in a growing number of cities and states that instead recognize Indigenous People’s Day. This trend is a sad development.
There is no particular reason the United States needs to celebrate Christopher Columbus’sarrival in the New World. In any of his voyages, he never touched upon land that became part of the 50 states. As a representative of the Spanish crown, his discoveries did not directly lead to the English settlement that gave rise to our country. Columbus Day originated in the United States primarily as a way for Italian American immigrants (Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy) to celebrate their status in their new land. As Italian Americans are no longer subjected to the significant prejudice that marked their arrival here last century, we could abolish Columbus Day celebrations entirely and most people would not terribly miss them.
That is not the course that many, mostly liberal, cities and states have taken. By renaming the holiday Indigenous People’s Day, they have decided to emphasize the sorrier aspects of Western colonization and conquest of the Americas rather than its virtues. That is problematic for a host of reasons.