Goodbye, Columbus

It’s America’s least-favorite holiday, created by those who favor myth as history. Columbus Day.

America has a lot to reckon with in terms of its history, author Roland Merullo writes today in the Boston Globe.

While it’s clear that our moral consciousness has evolved — behavior once endorsed by queens and bishops, presidents and popes, has become obviously evil in the eyes of the vast majority of Americans — we retain a tendency toward blind hero-worship.

Athletes, politicians, CEOs, and celebrities of all stripes are admired for their successes while we often ignore their gross mistreatment of others, and of the earth.

Speaking as one Italian-American, I’ll have no problem when statues to Columbus are removed from the public eye. And I won’t mind at all if the second Monday in October is no longer a holiday that bears his name.

It will bother me, though, if the grit, talent, and generosity of millions of Italian-Americans is no longer recognized.

I could mention Enrico Fermi and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Mercury astronaut Walter Schirra, DiMaggio, Sinatra, De Niro, Madonna, and Lady Gaga, but I’d rather honor the nameless ones who kept house and raised kids, who toiled in shoe and textile factories and carved stone and worked the mines in Appalachia.

Italian-Americans endured mockery and exclusion, then watched their culture — so rich in the arts, sciences, and human warmth — reduced to mob stereotypes and Jersey Shore goons. We deserve a special day.

But 60 percent of those surveyed say a Monday holiday for Columbus is a good idea, the latest Marist Institute survey reports.

“He was a man ahead of his time, who brought two worlds together and began the process that led to the founding of this country,” Carl Anderson, the Knights of Columbus CEO, said in a news release. The pro-Columbus group sponsored the survey.

Next to the gorgeous Minnesota State Capitol is an inscription on a statue of Columbus that’s wrong.

Columbus wasn’t the first European in the New World. He didn’t discover it. But he did pave the way for exploration of it, along with enslaving Native Americans and introducing new diseases.

Is there a case for colonialism?

Bruce Gilley, a political-science professor at Portland State University, thinks so.

In an essay for Third World Quarterly, Gilley argued countries colonized by the west “did better than those that were not.” He said “it is high time to question this orthodoxy” that colonialism is bad.

Fifteen of the journal’s 34 members resigned in protest, the Washington Post reports today.

The essay has since disappeared.

“A full-throated defense of colonialism would stand out almost anywhere; it was especially surprising at Third World Quarterly. How did the paper find a home in a journal described by some of the scholars closest to it as ‘anticolonialist’ . . .?” the Chronicle of Higher Education asked.

How is it still a holiday?