Columbus Day: Yay or Nay?

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By Jack McGinn ’19 and Emma West ’19

Columbus Day, which takes place on the second Monday of every October, has long been a controversial holiday.

American elementary school students are raised learning the importance of Christopher Columbus in society today. We’re told that America would not exist without Columbus. Everyone knows the famous song: “Columbus sailed the ocean blue / In 1492.”

But Columbus is far from the hero that we want him to be. In one of the first attempts to settle in America, he created the Hispaniola settlement; after he returned to find the village in ruins, he appointed his brothers Bartolomeo and Diego to rebuild it.

The Columbus’s abused their colonists and drove them to a bloody revolt, eventually resulting in Christopher Columbus’ arrest.

Throughout his time in “The New World,” Columbus abused both Native people and his own colonists: according to a recently discovered Spanish document, he once cut off the tongue of a woman who reminded him that his father was a weaver.

He saw value in enslaving and exporting Natives and followed Spanish slave trade methods to do so. He did not “discover” America; he was not even the first European to explore it (the Vikings beat him to that one in the 11th century).

In a world where the importance of political correctness is continually increasing, a holiday celebrating a historical figure with an evil past that we often choose to ignore is unjust. Columbus Day is a holiday that should have been changed or discarded long ago.

Many American cities have begun calling the holiday Indigenous People’s Day to honor the history and culture of the indigenous cultures of America. It’s an official holiday in many states and cities.

Though it’s unlikely to happen under the current administration, it’s time for Indigenous People’s Day became a national holiday in place of Columbus Day.

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