Thursday, April 3, 2014

Should Columbus Day be Banned As a National Holiday?

The Pro Argument:

Columbus Day marks the arrival of Europeans to the New World, and celebrates the "beginning of a cultural exchange between America and Europe". America has more Columbus statues and Columbus memorabilia than any other nation in the world. He's admired for his bravery in sailing West at a time when most uneducated believed the world to be flat.

Columbus Day is the only day which recognizes the heritage of almost 26 million Italian Americans. Columbus Day became a national holiday in 1971 after Congress passed a law stating that the second Monday in October is Columbus Day. Along with the accomplishments of Columbus, the law passed in 1971 commemorates the arrival of over 5 million Italians a century prior. Columbus Day is thus the only day which recognizes the heritage of a group now nearly 26 million in size.
The intent, is to celebrate Columbus's arrival to the New World. Much like how Manifest Destiny didn't encourage the killing of Natives and much like how Independence Day doesn't celebrate the killing of British in the Revolutionary War, Columbus Day doesn't celebrate the deaths of Native Americans that may have ensued. It's a celebration of the discovery of the New World.

 The Con Argument:

The annual celebration of Christopher Columbus' landing on the island Hispaniola on October of 1492 is acknowledged by spreading false information about a tyrant.  There exist accounts of Columbus and the men under his orders committing heinous acts of genocide on a people that he himself described as peaceful.  The American early education system honors his holiday every year by teaching that Columbus discovered America, despite the fact that he landed on an inhabited island and the evidence of much earlier European settlers actually on the continent.  The very acknowledgement of Columbus Day is a result of lobbying in Congress and buying off representatives on the part of the Knights of Columbus who did so in the interest of promoting a "Christian, Italian role model."  If he were alive today, he would be tried for crimes against humanity.

Christopher Columbus's journey, in other words his goal, was in fact a failure. Considering his intent was to find a quicker trade route to India in order to acquire goods such as silk.. Even simpler way of saying this is that Columbus didn't discover jack. The Americas had already been flourishing with civilizations thus were in fact inhabited, making the "discovery" a bit of an overstatement.

An excerpt from Howard Zinn's " A Peoples History of the United States"..
" Trying to put together an army of resistance, the Arawaks faced Spaniards who had armor, muskets, swords, horses. When the Spaniards took prisoners they hanged them or burned them to death. Among the Arawaks, mass suicides began, with cassava poison. Infants were killed to save them from the Spaniards. In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead. When it became clear that there was no gold left, the Indians were taken as slave labor on huge estates, known later as encomiendas. They were worked at a ferocious pace, and died by the thousands. By the year 1515, there were perhaps fifty thousand Indians left. By 1550, there were five hundred. A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants left on the island. "

This is someone of which we celebrate??

Blog Question: What side of this debate do you support?  Why?


59 comments:

  1. I'm deathly ill right now so I am going to keep this brief. Call me insensitive but I don't think having Columbus Day is really a big deal. Seriously who cares.. I mean no one looks forward to Columbus Day and every single Italian American I know doesn't have a huge celebration. Everyone forgets about Columbus Day. Although the chain of events that followed Columbus's arrival are gruesome and very unfortunate, I doubt every American is aware of this. No one is basking in the death of the Native Americans when they see Columbus Day on the calendar. So anyway, keep Columbus Day a holiday because removing it will cause more controversy over nothing than whats going on right now.

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    1. Did you ever think that maybe the Native Americans that are currently living in their home country don't see Columbus day as a good day? I think they would probably see it as the day that they lost their land and freedom. And also why should we celebrate a killer?

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    2. I agree with you that nobody really has a big celebrations for Columbus Day like I said in my blog post compared to what we do for Christmas( from the hot chocolate to feasts to family to friends to parties, to presents). In school, at least we talk about Christmas like what we are going to do, what we want, etc... but for Columbus Day I have nothing to say. But, I think that taking away this national holiday would cause an eruption of chaos, so its better jsut leaving it teh way it is now.

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    3. As i said in my post, i agree with your statement on opposing the removal of the holiday. It would cause unecessary drama and havoc for something very minute. But as for Bishoy's comment, i agree with your comment but truthfully no one really celebrates Christopher Columbus nor does anyone praise him, they mainly idealize the idea of being disovered and the day when the we were actually found.

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    4. As i mentioned also in my post how if we stop celebrating Columbus Day as a holiday there will be even more controversy. I truly believe people would make a big deal out of nothing. Just removing the holiday will cause unnecessary drama because people will start to question why we are moving the day when "the new world discovery" occurred. Right now it really isn't cause any harm to anyone so there is no point in removing the holiday. If it ain't broke, don't fix it right? :D

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    5. Come on, I know Columbus was no saint, but he wasn't entirely a villain either. Since you claim that Americans aren't aware of the more gruesome side of his plan, we can all agree that we are aware of his attributes that changed our Earth for the better. His method of discovery and ability to concisely record his happenings set him apart from many voyagers. He additionally opened the door for explorers like Magellan and Hudson. Most importantly, his discovery helped shape our very own nation, hence why we need to celebrate his vision and significance in our culture.

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    6. I agree that bringing up removing this holiday would just spark unnecessary controversy about an issue no one even cares about. People just see it as a day off from work.

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  2. I do not believe Columbus day should be celebrated because it marks the arrival of Europeans to the new world.My main argument for this is that the United States is not only made up of people with European decent. What about people like me... there is no holiday for when middle easterners or Asians came to the United States. There is no Egyptain Day (I got u Bish) marking the day Egyptians came here. Very unfair for the countless other Americans. In addition, Columbus did not want to discover the New World. It was a mistake. Why would we want to celebrate a mistake? In addition, the man caused many deaths. Furthermore, it is now argued that he wasnt even the first European to come to the New World. Columbus did more had then good and as a result, Columbus day should not be celebrated.

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    1. Why celebrate a mistake? Because it was the greatest darn mistake ever made in history! I mean without Mr. Columbus man its possible this continent wouldn't have become the the land of the brave, and the free, land of the paid and the highly achieved! Plus a great man once said "Jazz, I would say is America's greatest gift to the world... Alright, but do you know England greatest gift to the world?... AMERICA." Plus Columbus arrived seeking a mystery. People "like you" arrived seeking 'Merica.

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    2. Thanks homeboy! I want a national holiday when the first Egyptian came into America. And Justin you're actually wrong. Colombus accidently "discovered" America. He was actually seeking a shorter trade route with Asia. He didn't even know where he was when he found America (thus calling it West Indies). Besides, this country did belong to the free and brave. Then Columbus indirectly killed those people and created the land of greed and corruption.

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    3. First of all, you justifying your argument by saying there isn't a day for every single race of people that arrived for America is dense. Yes, we are a country founded on immigrants BUT we aren't celebrating Columbus just for the Italians. It's because his discovery eventually led to our country being founded. And yes the Vikings first arrived here but look how much they did for us? Nothing, that's why there isnt a lief erikson day (spongebob)

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    4. I agree with maya that we arent celebrating Columbus Day for the Italians. Though I agree he discovered American unintentionally, it was still a good mstake in which he found America and which is now the homeland of not just Italians, but of many.

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    5. Although you pose a good argument, why wouldnt we celebrate it? Did your people find America? I am not angry that we do not celebrate anyone from Colombia because they did not find America. The thing is, we do not celebrate Christopher Columbus, we celebrate the finding of America. So why would we celebrate someone for just showing up the country that MIGHT have no existed today if it was not for this person for finding it, mistake or not.

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  3. With an understanding that Columbus was not exactly a saint, a hero, or an explorer who made a real “discovery” I can see where people come from in saying “hey! Why do we celebrate that man?” But do we honestly celebrate him? Yeah we have statues of him, monuments even, and many kids grow up believing he was the undisputed discoverer of America but what exactly do we do the 13th of October to celebrate him? Nothing more than relax really. It’s like St. Patrick’s Day because we all definitely celebrate him that day… ahuh. So under these circumstances there is no reason to get rid of it because it will only stir more arousal. But in the idea of what he did, caused, and acted I still don’t see a reason to get rid of it. We can celebrate the idea that he was a brave explorer who expanded the knowledge of the New World to the rest of the war. He slaughtered Natives? Oh but did he?! I mean the Spaniards slaughtered natives but I don’t think we can say Columbus did. I guess Harry S. Truman killed thousands of Japanese civilians too by authorizing the dropping of the atomic bomb. So too finish this idea let us just keep Columbus Day.

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    1. I agree with you, celebrating Columbus day doesn't mean that people are happy the Native Americans died. It just means that we are happy that he discovered the Continent for Europe and later influencing the English colony to settle here.

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    2. Well I bet them Native Americans are sure extremely happy that Columbus "discovered" the continent which influenced the English to settle here. You know what I wan't to compromise. Columbus day should stay, but the children must be taught how Columbus did not discover America since it was already inhabited and other ancient civilizations already discovered it. Also, they need to be taught how Columbus did not even mean to discover a new continent, and he did not realize he did discover a new continent. Finally, they need to be taught that he indirectly killed thousands of Native Americans.

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    3. I agree that celebrating Columbus Day doesn't mean that we are happy about the NA died. We are simply just happy that we accomplished and found the future o America. Bish I think your just being a little too harsh, Columbus had no bad intentions, all he wanted to do was a find a trade route.

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    5. Bishoy i agree with you thinking! However I too wish to compromise. I say we follow your plan besides the last part because i don't think we want to teach our kids about Killing inocent natives whether it happened or not! Remeber america is way to sensitive!!! Also you must refer to me as cpt. de Avila from now on.

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    6. Baby Bish, look at you coming up with such a great solution. I think your compromise makes perfect and logical sense. We need to educate other on how Columbus did not actually find America because it was already inhabited by Native Americans. We need to teach people what is so significant about him arriving to the new continent which is he broke the theory of the Earth being flat.

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    7. OH NO YOU DIDN'T KUSH!!!! Seriously???? I thought you were an APUSH student!! Am I mistaken??? "We need to teach people what is so significant about him arriving to the new continent which is he BROKE THE THEORY of the EARTH BEING FLAT."?????? WHAT????? You really should know better!!! That is one of the BIGGEST myths about Columbus. He never "proved" that theory nor set out to do so. The educated masses by the 15th century already KNEW the Earth was round. Do you not remember great scientific minds of the Scientific Revolution?? Columbus never makes the argument that he will prove the Earth is round. If you want to add something to the "compromise" that has been proposed by the "Bish" - add that one! Elementary school teachers need to stop teaching these falsehoods (sort of like the one about how Washington crossed the Delaware during the AR and COMPLETELY surprised the "British" because they were all drunk and sleeping due to late night Christmas Eve celebrating.... another one of those myths that just keep being told over and over).

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  4. Columbus is a heresy. He is a lie. He was a failure. The man set out to find a trade route with Asia but instead accidentally found a new continent. But the thing is, he didn't even discover new land because the land was already inhabited! He wasn't even the first one to get to the Americas, the Norse actually got there first. Not only did he fail at his goal, he also indirectly started a war against Native Americans. How did he do this? Well its simple, if Columbus didn't mess up and was actually a good navigator, than he would have reached his destination: Asia. Instead, he found America, which opened the flood gates. War was immediately declared on the inhabitants for this "new" land, a war that the Native Americans could not win. So lets recap, this guy was a failure in life and he killed thousands. And we celebrate him? Why don't we just celebrate Kim Jun Un while we're at it, cause he has the same characteristics as Columbus.

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    1. Bish you're being so harsh. I'm sure Columbus didn't intend to wipe out a race. He was just sent out by Spain to find a trade route. On Columbus Day no one wakes up and is like yay Im so happy Columbus killed all the Native Americans. Im sure a majority of the population doesn't want it to repealed anyway.

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    2. Bishoy are you okay. A heresy really! Hah! And plus his accident open up relations to Europe. Opened up new oppurtunity that became the land in which you live today. He may not have found Asia and may not have discovered anything but cant you see what his voyage became. Do you not see any sort of accomplishment in his actions? Your just another over sensitive American. Yes i said it.

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    3. First of all it is Kim Jong-Un LOL. Are you okay? HOW can you compare a dictator who is insane to Christopher Columbus? This man ordered the execution of family members. Your comparison is completely irrelevant to me. Yes I understand Native Americans were killed but this was ordered by the Spaniards not Columbus himself.

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    4. A failure in life? Are you joking? The man was one of the bravest explorers ever, literally setting out on a journey that damn near EVERYONE said he would never return from, in search of something desperately needed, ONLY to find something even better. Saying he is a failure is ridiculous.

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  5. I do not think Columbsu Day should be celebrated as a national holiday. Like does anyone really even care? Like I am aware of what he has accomplished whether it was not what he intended to acommplish orginally. He set out for Asia, but discovered America ( which was a one of thsoe unintentional good mistakes). But, do we really look forward every year for this holiday as we do for Christmas, New Years and other superior holidays. Nobody really has a big celebrations for Columbus Day like we do for Christmas( from the hot chocolate to feasts to family to friends to parties, to presents). In school, at least we talk about Christmas like what we are going to do, what we want, etc... but for Columbus Day I have nothing to say. But, I think that taking away this national holiday would cause an eruption of chaos, so its better jsut leaving it teh way it is now.

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    1. Come on Rish! Discrediting Columbus is just discrediting Western civilization itself.

      Columbus was a man whos keen vision and courage (as mentioned below) contributed IMMEASURABLY to the world in which we live in today!

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    2. Columbus' mistake is just right. He discovered the new world, it's like he wrote the first paragraph of our nation's essay and we all know that without an introductory paragraph the body of essay would never be as good as one with an introduction. So, yeah, Columbus Day should be celebrated

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  6. Columbus accidentally discovered a new continent, instead of finding a quicker trade route to India but still he marked a tremendous achievement. With him sailing West people started to understand the world is not flat but actually a spherical shape. Columbus with his bravery began a new age in exploration and encouraged others to make daring voyages around the world. Also Columbus Day is an American tradition, we should celebrate it just other annual holidays such as Mother's & Father's Day, Saint Patrick's Day, and Presidents Day. Yes maybe he wasn't the most noble guy but he did contribute majorly on how to travel on the seas. Another thing is we get a day off for this holiday so come on ...we need to keep it! Honestly, we really don't do much on Columbus Day anyways and I really don't think it is a big issue, where we need to no longer celebrate the holiday because that will only create more problems.

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    1. I liked what you said about how Columbus day was an American tradition because you are completely right. Commonly, when traditions are broken people get very upset, so why try to change something that causes no harm.

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    2. I don't think Columbus was the one to discover all of these things yet he was credited with them. What are we celebrating in Columbus day? The death of thousands of Natives? This bio-terrorism? What good comes from Columbus day? We are celebrating a day for a so called "hero" that has done a lot of wrong in his life which includes unfair treatment, yet most importantly lying... This day has no effect on us and should definitely be taken away...

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    3. That's exactly how I feel; I am almost opinion-less about this topic because I barely acknowledge this holiday. I'm not sure if Italian Americans value this holiday.

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    4. But Jen, what if it's a tradition nobody really cares about?

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  7. Columbus is just a name we use to celebrate something so much more then just the man that discovered the new world. In reality, no one really looks at this day and thanks him for discovering the New World; ironically everyone ignores him and just focuses on the fact that someone discovered us. I do agree with what Mayo said though. Taking the holiday out would only cause more problems because people would feel “insulted”…even though Columbus was European…and no one really thinks of him. However, I do think it is ridiculous to honor this man with a holiday but the fact is no one really honors him because they do not prominently celebrate him, but the discovery.

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    1. I agree with you. Columbus was completely crazy. The things he did and the way he treated his crew cannot be represented in words. All in all.. He was a plain old LIAR. We have given a wrong man a holiday that he doesn't deserve. Why is the United States creating a holiday for a LIAR??? We are better than that... It maybe true that we might not be here without him, but i believe he was a horrible person and he doesn't deserve to be the owner of a holiday.

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    2. It is not ridiculous to honor the man whose name we use to celebrate our discovery. It is just righteous to celebrate what Christopher Columbus has done, not because of what he had done wrong, but because of what he has contributed to us as a nation. I mean the guy practically set the beginning of our journey towards what we are today. So we should definitely celebrate him and his achievements.

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    3. I agree that we just use the name for the holiday, not so much what Columbus did or stood for. I don't the word, but it's just like an empty title or something like a figurehead type of thing. It's not a man's name anymore, it's just a label.

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    4. But even if we did revere him, is that so bad? The guy kinda did something important (see modern history), so I don't think us looking at that is a bad thing. Sure, he isn't perfect, but who is?

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    5. Another holiday nobody cares for...Groundhogs Day. At least Columbus Day has some sort of significance for poeple. Groundhogs Day has none....

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  8. I absolutely think Columbus Day should be celebrated! While many disregard it as an important day, it serves to focus on the catalyst for the Age of Exploration which undoubtedly altered History in numerous ways. Whether or not Columbus was 100% good doesn't change his overall action of converging the New and Old world respectively. Columbus demonstrated courage when he brought men and trade to action; a task that many people couldn't or wouldn't do. He evidently changed the world, so I don't see why a day off from school or 1 day out of 365 cannot be honored in his name & for his impact on the US !#USA #TeamColumbus






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    1. I agree with you Jen! Columbus day should be celebrated because I believe that it was through his discovery of the new world that kind of set the journey of our nation on sail to became the United States of America. If it weren't for his mistake, there wouldn't be much of us today.

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  9. I do think Columbus day should be celebrated and that it should remain a holiday simply because, if it weren't for the guy, would our nation be the same as it is? Sure, Christopher Columbus made a lot of mistakes, caused bio-terrorism (Columbian exchange) and other stuff, but we have to at least acknowledge and celebrate the bravery of the guy for setting sail into the vast ocean and by doing so, accidentally discovered the new world for Spain (at least) which basically set the beginning of us. And as for him, committing mistakes that greatly altered our world, well it's just the right mistake. So, why change the tradition and remove Columbus day as a holiday when clearly, Columbus' achievements has right to be celebrated.

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    2. You say would our nation be the same? That is completely not a viable idea because our nation could be better or worse. Columbus lied about so many things and we are celebrating a holiday for him?!?!? That is the main reason his holiday shouldn't be treated, because of the way he treated his crew and the fact that he was a liar... at the end of the day there are so many more explorers that are deserving of the holiday yet we have given it to a untreatable man. He caused so much trouble that a holiday for him is jus OUTRAGEOUS.

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    3. He caused too much trouble that basically caused too much greatness. And as for him being a liar, do we have to celebrate someone who is by all means perfect and great just cause they are? The guy has flaws but don't we all? And come on Abu, it is just shameful to say that we couldn't celebrate his achievements and discovery because he is a liar. I'm pretty sure the some other explorers you are talking about, was a liar too at some point of their lives. We all should stop looking at what he did wrong and what his flaws and mistakes are because at the end of the day, Christopher Columbus did build a bridge between the new world and old world, which sparked what we have today, a world with relations...

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    4. And oh, no body's perfect, so why must we expect too much from a guy? Can we just celebrate him and his rather great achievements and not get all fired up because he's a liar and all.

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    5. Abu, you know who was a huge liar? George Washington. Do you feel that we also shouldn't celebrate Washington's birthday as a national holiday?

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    6. Ok, Melissa, in my opinion, that is a bad comparison (or bad approach at making a point through a comparison). George Washington was a liar? Explain. If you are talking about many of his actions during the AR - that's really not a fair comparison. He often lied and sent out false information during the AR simply to confuse the British - and guess what.... it often worked. Not sure exactly what else you are referring to as him lying. I'd be interested to hear one of your examples.

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  10. I agree Kesh. Instead of using Columbus as a scapegoat for things that happened about 500 years ago, we should be able to recognize he is man worthy of the accolades bestowed upon him! This day can just be used to recognize his contributions and be grateful for the land we inhibit and live on/for.


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  11. I don't think there is a need to remove or change Columbus Day from the list of holidays celebrated in the United States. I view Columbus Day as a day of simple remembrance and recognition; remembering the founding of our country in its beginning years and the acknowledge of Italian Americans and their heritage. Holidays are not celebrated because of what event happened, horrible or not; they are meant to be celebrated for the common feelings they arise based on past events. We remember Jesus and thank him for the way he died for Christians, but we do not think back on those religious holidays with vengeance for Jews or other antagonists.

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    1. I agree with you James, Columbus day should be celebrated because discovering a new world is not something you do on a daily basis. So, why not honor someone who did do something great right?

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  12. I absolutely agree that Columbus may not exactly be the role model that this holiday puts him up to be. But in the same sense, many MANY celebrated men and women have a dark part to their story. (ex. Pretty much any great General in History, particularly men like Alexander the Great). Now, I know we don't have Alexander day (The Great Day?), but he is also revered as a great man and leader. Very few great leaders in History have a record without atleast a few black marks. In general, we tend to ignore these things in order to focus on the great things that they did do. Under that logic, I think commemorating the man who really made the "New" discovery of the "New" world is completely justifies. Also, in regards to him being a failure, a great number of great things were discovered completely on accident, much like Columbus' accidental discovery of two continents. (Type in things discovered on accident in google and just read). So I don't think him accidentally discovering something marks him as a failure. All in All, we should not be rid of Columbus day.

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    1. Nick - I see a major flaw in this line of reasoning. "Very few great leaders in History have a record without atleast a few black marks. In general, we tend to ignore these things in order to focus on the great things that they did do. " Remember, for the argument to be valid, it must apply to all cases (not a pick and choose format). So, if we use this line of reasoning, we should also celebrate Hitler. Correct? Yes, we'd all agree he was "evil" (see earlier blog), but according to your line of reasoning, we should overlook that and focus on the great things that he did for Germany. Did he not bring Germany out of the chocking economic effects of the aftermath of WW I? He took Germany from a massive unemployment to nearly a 2% unemployment rate. He unified Germany and revised German nationalism.

      The flaw here comes from the premise that we should "overlook" the bad and focus on the good - yet at what "magical" point does one's "bad" (evil) outweigh one's "good." If there is a "magical point" (a line), where does the line exist... if indeed it does exist?

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  13. I feel like both the pro and con arguments mentioned in the original post are taking extreme stances on the issue, and that "ban" is an extremely strong word. Do I feel Columbus Day should be celebrated as a national holiday? No. He wasn't some man out with a noble cause, he was just out to make money. And it wasn't like he "discovered" anything new. And although many people at the time did believe that the world was flat, Columbus actually knew that the world was round. He wasn't as brave and adventurous as people make him out to be. He had prepared and carefully calculated his journey ahead of time (the only mistake being the miscalculation in how far away the Indies were).

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    1. Keep Columbus Day on the calendar though. It's not worth all the unnecessary work and controversy to try and remove it, honestly, nobody's being harmed by it. Just rename it to something more significant, such as Discovery Day. Nobody really cares about Columbus on Columbus Day, they only care about the fact that our continent was re-discovered, leading to more permanent settlements than those of the Norse.

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    2. Question: Does it make logical sense to maintain a "mistake" simply for the safe or convince of rectifying the mistake? I mean, many of you, not just you, have made the argument that it's no "big deal" and trying to get rid of it would cause more problems "than it's worth." But doesn't it same something about our growth as a nation when we recognize our past mistakes and take measures to correct them?

      Food for thought....

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  14. Ummmm... this might actually make a pretty good debate topic......

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