Monday, October 12, 2015

Not celebrating Columbus Day

Let's be honest. We don't agree on a lot of things in this country. But pretty much everyone that isn't a member of the Knights of Columbus can agree that Christoforo Colombo, the man we call Christopher Columbus, wasn't a nice man. He may have discovered the New World and opened it up for trade, but he also was a known murderer, a slaver and a man more than willing to bend Biblical verse to encourage his sick desires. He was a man with a love of money, but who could never quite find it or the magical realm of gold he believed existing on Haiti or the surrounding islands. But we still celebrate him, rhyme about how "in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue". And we have a whole day devoted to him.

Now honestly, Columbus Day is pretty much an excuse to give state and federal employees a day off and for businesses to throw sales. But that doesn't mean it is a good thing that we celebrate it. But despite a ton of people really not liking Columbus, his day doesn't change and few cities and states have made any effort to change it. (Seattle is a noted exception with the awfully-named Indigenous Peoples Day.) A lot of this is probably the influence of the two million members of the Knights of Columbus worldwide. While I consider the Catholic organization a great giver of time and money to many amazing causes, I also dislike their unending need to protect the good name of a slaver and murderer.

Let's be honest about Columbus, he opened up the New World, but he also brought a ton of evil to it. And it is more than time to change the day to celebrate someone more deserving of the honor.

My personal preference is Sacagawea Day, a celebration of one of the finest American heroes in this country's history, and a woman that did far more to open up the United States than perhaps anyone else in its history. Admittedly, I am also just fascinated by her as a historical figure, even including her in an upcoming novel, but she seems like a wise decision to both celebrate the foundation of this land and the dozens of tribes that were there to meet her and the Lewis & Clark expedition on their journey across the country.

Sacagawea is a complete badass in the pages of Image's Manifest Destiny.
Will a change ever occur? I guess that's up to individual states and cities. But I hope that in a few years from now, we can put Columbus in his proper place in history and celebrate far better American icons come the second Monday in October.

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