Thursday, April 3, 2014
Should Columbus Day be Banned As a National Holiday?
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?