Columbus Day, once considered a major event, has been undergoing a decline in recent years. Columbus Day parades have met with protests and some have been deemphasized or outright eliminated. In Denver, the Columbus Day Parade was met by protesters holding signs, such as, "Kick cracker bums off Indian land". John Hickenlooper, the Democratic candidate for Governor in Colorado, helped fund violent anti-Columbus Day protests, which featured multiple arrests. In Santa Barbara, a rally will featured a hanged Columbus effigy.
About the only factor still keeping Columbus on the calendar in places like New York is his role in the Italian-American community, which has made many Mayors and Governors reluctant to toss the great explorer completely overboard. But the very fact that Columbus' place in history now comes down to a single ethnic group's pride, rather than his role in the discovery and development of the entire country, shows just how fragmented, American history has become. While Ferdinand and Isabella may have brought Columbus back in chains, modern day political correctness banishes him to the darkened dungeon of non-personhood, erasing him from history and replacing him with a note reading, "I'm Sorry We Ever Discovered America."
But this is about more than one single 15th century Genoan with a complicated life who was neither a monster nor a saint. It is about whether America really has any right to exist at all. Is there any argument against celebrating Columbus Day, that cannot similarly be applied to celebrating the 4th of July?
If Columbus is to be stricken from American history books in favor of ideological thugs like Malcolm X or Caesar Chavez, then America itself must soon follow. If Columbus' crime is that he enabled European settlement of America and slavery-- those same charges can easily be put at America's door as well. And if the settlement of non-Indians in North America is illegitimate, then any national state they created is just as illegitimate.
It is easier to hack away at a nation's soul by beginning with the lower branches. Columbus is an easier target than America itself, though the left now considers both to be colonialist and illegitimate. But Americans are less likely to protest over the slow banishing of Columbus to the politically correct Gulag of history, than over the banishing America itself, which after all was named after another one of those colonialist explorers, Amerigo Vespucci. And so first they came for Columbus Day and then for the Fourth of July.
The battles being fought over Columbus Day foreshadow the battles that will one day be fought over the 4th of July. And as Columbus Day joins the list of banned holidays in more and more cities and states across America, one day there may not be a 4th of July, just a day to remember the atrocities of the colonists against the indigenous inhabitants of North America, as we will be treated to PBS documentaries comparing George Washington to Hitler and calling the Declaration of Independence a colonialist mandate. Such documentaries of course already exist, they just haven't gone mainstream. Yet.
We celebrate Columbus Day and the 4th of July because they are part of our history. More so because without them, there would be no American history. Had the Aztecs, the Mayans or the Iroquois Confederation developed the necessary technology, skills and motivation to cross the Atlantic and begin colonizing Europe, the fate of its native inhabitants would have been far uglier. And the end result would not have been a system with equal rights and political freedoms.
To Americans, the Alamo is a shining moment of heroism. To the Mexicans who were themselves the inheritors of a colonialist empire far more ruthless than anything to be found in North America, the entire war represents an American plot to conquer Mexican territory. Choosing which version of history to go with is the difference between being an American or a Mexican. A nation's mythology, its paragons and heroes, its founding legends and great deeds, are its soul. To replace them with another culture's perspective on its history is to kill that soul.
This is how it all begins. Probably the final bit of politically correct lunacy is a headline in the Columbus Dispatch about the Columbus Day festival in the city of Columbus, Ohio. It reads, "Italian Festival honors controversial explorer with its own Columbus Day parade". Once the great discover of America, Columbus is now called "controversial" by a newspaper named after him, in a city named after him.
Can the day when USA Today has a headline reading, "Some cities still plan controversial 4th of July celebration of American independence" be far behind?