In our intensely monitored PC world where one insensitive public move can garner a tempest of negative online feedback, one wonders HOW we still manage to “celebrate” Columbus Day without reflecting on the fact that we are celebrating a man that slaughtered and pillaged whole nations. Cities like Seattle and Minneapolis have decided to put matters into their own hands by re appropriating the day to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, for the very people Columbus slaughtered. But, there still a lot of states still recognize Columbus Day as a federal holiday and it probably still shows up on the wall calendar that might be hanging over your desk.
Richard Nixon established the holiday as we know it with a presidential proclamation, stating “Now, therefore, I, Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Monday, October 9, 1972, as Columbus Day; and I invite the people of this nation to observe that day in schools, churches and other suitable places with appropriate ceremonies in honor of the great explorer.” Some states, like Hawaii, celebrates Discoverers’ Day “in recognition of the Polynesian discoverers of the Hawaiian Islands,” and South Dakota celebrates Native American Day, which is “dedicated to the remembrance of the great Native American leaders who contributed so much to the history of our state.”
Some communities celebrate Columbus Day for their Italian-American heritage. But even that could be controversial. One, because there are better, less violent Italian heroes to celebrate, and two, because the jury on Columbus’ true heritage is still out. The long standing claim that Columbus was actually Spanish and that his Italian lineage was fabricated, has yet to disproved, so perhaps, the readily acceptance of Columbus’ nationality, again, should be reconsidered.
Here are some suggestions for less controversial, certified Italian Italians that are more worthy of hero worship for October the 13th.
Marco Pollo was an explorer and merchant, famous for his travels in central Asia and China. He might not have made it to China, though.
Enrico Bernardi was an engineer and one of Italian automobile pioneers. Inventor of the “Pia Engine”, the first petrol engine. You know, if you’re into cars and gas emissions.
Gian Domenico Romagnosi was a philosopher, economist and jurist, famous for having discovered the same link between electricity and magnetism
And if we want to look at celebrities, there’s Steve Buscemi, Martin Scorsese, Anjelica Huston, hell, even Jon Bon Jovi would be a better choice.
And why would Jon Bon Jovi be a better choice? Because Christopher Columbus was a tyrannical, violent and money hungry explorer. He was a slave trader, capturing indigenous men and women in order to lessen his failure to find a new trade route. Let’s quote the explorer to get his opinion on certain topics.
While I was in the boat, I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me. When I had taken her to my cabin she was naked—as was their custom. I was filled with a desire to take my pleasure with her and attempted to satisfy my desire. She was unwilling, and so treated me with her nails that I wished I had never begun. But—to cut a long story short—I then took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly, and she let forth such incredible screams that you would not have believed your ears. Eventually we came to such terms, I assure you, that you would have thought that she had been brought up in a school for whores.
On the Arawak People: These people are very unskilled in arms… with 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one wished.
On profit: But in truth, should I meet with gold or spices in great quantity, I shall remain till I collect as much as possible, and for this purpose I am proceeding solely in quest of them.
When he arrived in the “New World” or the Bahamas as we know it, in that fateful year (1492), he met the Lucayan people. Demanding food, gold, and sexual favors of the Lucayan women didn’t go over very well with the natives, so Columbus decided to cut off their ears and noses so that they got his message. Just incase they didn’t, he enslaved 500 of them on his ships to sail back to Spain.
And let’s not forget that Columbus didn’t actually “discover” anything. Christopher Wanjek a writer for CBS News put it best, “Yes, let’s ignore the fact that millions of humans already inhabited this land later to be called the Americas, having discovered it millennia before. And let’s ignore that whole Leif Ericson voyage to Greenland and modern-day Canada around 1000 C.M.E.”
Not to mention, the NATIVES of the Bahamas archipelago and Hispaniola (what we know as modern day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) that didn’t need to be discovered. Let’s put it this way, it’s estimated that in the next fifty years post-Columbian disease and starvation was in the range of 3-5 million people.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is Happy Indigenous People’s Day!