Hooray, it’s time again to celebrate the man who got lost, washed ashore on a land that had already been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, claimed it for his financier, the King of Spain, enslaved its inhabitants, left behind smallpox and syphilis, never really figured out whether he was in Asia or not, and was such an inept and brutal governor that he was jailed by his King. For some reason Italian-Americans have come to celebrate this day as some sort of Italian heritage day (despite the fact that Columbus lived in Portugal before he sailed under a Spanish flag and lived and died in Spain and gave his allegiance to the Spanish king). Because this is apparently the type of man Italian-Americans want to identify with. Was Mussolini day already taken?
It’s time to end the lies. Columbus is no hero. He didn’t discover anything. He got lost and blundered into the Caribbean where he proceeded to enslave, murder and brutalize the indigenous people of the Americas. Since 1990 South Dakota has recognized October 12th as Native American Day. Sixteen states do not recognize Columbus Day, and now Seattle and Minneapolis have designated it Indigenous Peoples Day.
Apparently some Italian-Americans are offended by this move to set the historical record straight. Too bad. Find another day to call your own. There are 20 public holidays in Italy and guess what? Columbus Day isn’t one of them. If Italians don’t celebrate it why the hell should Italian-Americans, and why the hell should the rest of America? Norwegian-Americans don’t celebrate the day Leif Erikson came to North America 500 years before Columbus. Native Americans don’t celebrate the day the first people crossed the Bering Strait 15,000 or 20,000 years before that. So why do we celebrate Columbus as some sort of discoverer?
Here’s a thought: screw Columbus. He doesn’t deserve a holiday. Nothing wrong with celebrating Italian heritage, it’s a great idea. So let’s designate April 15th a holiday. Why? It’s the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci, a contemporary of Columbus who distinguished himself by making untold numbers of scientific discoveries, painting and sculpting incredible works of art, while somehow managing not to murder and enslave anyone or steal an entire continent. There’s an Italian you can be proud of. April 15th is also tax day, which is another good excuse to declare it a day of rest.