Columbus (photo taken from the Metropolitan Museum of Art online collection) Day is now Indigenous People Day in Seattle and Minneapolis. Since Seattle is now my hometown, I think it’s great.
In an article by the Smithsonian from last October, the headline says that the purpose for renaming is to be more politically correct and inclusive. Inevitably some people will be upset. One person said in the article interview that Columbus is some kind of symbol for Italians and so on. So he felt disrespected. Well, this is not Cinco de Mayo, buddy! Columbus isn’t a symbol for Italians. Want a symbol? Try having a Leonardo di Vinci Day.
Instead of being a symbol for Italians, Columbus is a symbol of historical ignorance that has plagued American educational system. Now, the new generation of teachers are beginning to teach a bit more of what actually happened. Knowing what happened should cause people to change this day to a more accurate reflection of historical reality. One article summarizes just some of the facts that Columbus is a symbol of. Let me summarize. First, Columbus never reached the shores of the US. He’s only reached Cuba. Second, Columbus misrepresented the local populations to be cannibals even though they had given him help. Third, based on de la Casa’s letters (all accessible online now), his crew were rapists and murderers. Fourth, he killed a quarter of a million (though I’ve read scholars who said that he killed much more) of natives for gold. Fifth, he sold children into sex slavery. Sixth, he killed the natives using hunting dogs to hunt them down. Seventh, Columbus was brought back to Spain as a prisoner for mismanagement of Hispaniola but was pardoned. So, in short, Columbus is a symbol of genocide and dishonesty.
If Germany has a Hitler Day, would renaming it be for the purpose of political correctness and inclusiveness? No! So, why should anyone call it political correctness and inclusiveness when it comes to Columbus Day? Isn’t it because of the privilege position of not being directly affected by the deeds of Columbus? If you use words like inclusive and political correctness to describe this move, you really aren’t part of the solution. Instead, you’re part of the problem. Think about this. Some people just don’t get it.
As a Christian, Galatians 3.28 is a manifesto I can get behind. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all in Christ.” Every Christian pays lip service to this verse, but do we really believe it. If we do believe it, then why would we celebrate anyone who made racial discrimination and slavery his main means of getting rich? The simple answer is, We shouldn’t.