A brief defense of a quintessentially American holiday.
Columbus Day has largely been a minor national holiday with deep local roots since it was federally recognized in 1971. It was first celebrated long before that, however. Starting off in New York City in 1792 as a commemoration of the 300th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas, the holiday has kept this identity over the centuries but has also been adopted as a celebration of Italian-American heritage. Most people think of it as the one day off from school in October before the deluge of holidays in November and December. Recently, it has gained in prominence – or infamy – due to a progressive crusade to label Columbus a genocidaire and to rechristen the holiday as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. These campaigners accuse Columbus of perpetuating a deliberate genocide of native peoples and label the European interaction with the New World as irredeemably bad. This activist campaign has gained ground over the past decade and several states have officially changed their calendars accordingly. As useful and proper as it is to memorialize the contributions of Native Americans to the United States, the defenestration of Columbus Day is a terrible mistake. In many ways, Columbus Day is itself a perfect encapsulation of our amazing country and its evolution over the centuries into a “more perfect union.”Read More »