Technically today is a federal holiday called “Columbus Day” but it’s rather confused. Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont have all banned it and replaced it with “Indigenous Peoples Day.” Many more local counties have done the same or as President Biden did this morning simultaneously order the celebration of “Indigenous Peoples Day.”
NBCNews put it best, “Columbus Day is not a holiday the U.S. — and Italian Americans — should celebrate” …because?
Well, Columbus didn’t actually find America, he found the Bahamas. And there were quite a few other people already here. As for Europeans discovering us, the Vikings might have been first a half dozen centuries before or so before Columbus.
Nearly two million federal workers get time off with pay, most schools are closed, but the stock market is still jumping around and at last count almost two-thirds of all businesses (and States) still consider it a workday.
When FDR declared “Columbus Day” in 1934 he was trying to cement his shaky alliance with the New York crowd, which robustly was celebrating the day and had for every year since its first parade in 1792, three hundred years after Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America.
Biden’s reversal of Trump’s predisposition towards the holiday was expected. Trump had pronounced in his first year in office, “Sadly, in recent years, radical activists have sought to undermine Christopher Columbus’s legacy,” Trump said in his proclamation. “Rather than learn from our history, this radical ideology and its adherents seek to revise it, deprive it of any splendor, and mark it as inherently sinister. They seek to squash any dissent from their orthodoxy.
“We must not give in to these tactics… We must teach future generations about our storied heritage, starting with the protection of monuments.”
Of course Trump’s grasp of history rivals my grasp of haircut styles. What Trump grasps is the fears and angers of at least a third of America that remains white, evangelical and terrified at their loss of political power.
As I said last year, this place is broken. Meanwhile, lots of us are taking the day off, about the only respite from argument we have.