Monday, October 10, 2011
Posted by Daniel Greenfield 17 Comments
In California, Columbus Day became Indigenous People's Day, which sounds vaguely like a Marxist terrorist group's holiday. But while it's tempting to put that down to California's political correctness, in South Dakota, it was renamed Native American Day.
No American state has followed Venezuela's lead in renaming it Día de la Resistencia Indígena, or Day of Indigenous Resistance, which actually is a Marxist terrorist group's holiday, the whole notion of celebrating the discovery of America has come to be seen as somehow shameful and worst of all, politically incorrect.
Anti-Columbus Day protests are mounted by La Raza, whose members, despite their indigenous posturing, are actually mostly descended from Spanish colonists, but who know that most American liberals are too confused to rationally frame an objection to a protest by any minority group.
About the only thing sillier than a group of people emphasizing their collective identity as a Spanish speaking people, and denouncing Columbus as an imperialist exploiter is the prevalence of "white" aborigines in Australian academia who make Ward Churchill look tan.
The absurdity of these attacks is only deepened by the linguistic and cultural ties between the Italian marchers and the Latino protesters, but while the former are being honest about their cultural origins, the latter are cynically exploiting white guilt to pretend that being the descendants of Southern European colonists makes them a minority.
If being descended from Southern Europeans makes you a minority, then Columbus, the parade marchers, the Greek restaurant owner nearby and even Rush Limbaugh are all "people of color."
Italian-Americans are the only bulwark against political correctness still keeping Columbus on the calendar, and that has made mayors and governors in cities and states with large Italian-American communities wary of tossing the great explorer completely overboard. But while Ferdinand and Isabella may have brought Columbus back in chains, modern day political correctness has banished him to the darkened dungeon of non-personhood, erasing him from history and replacing him with a note reading, "I'm Sorry We Ever Landed Here."
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 the Fourth of July?
If Columbus is to be stricken from the history books in favor of ideological thugs like Malcolm X or Caesar Chavez, then America must soon follow. Columbus' crime is that he enabled European settlement of the continent. If the settlement of non-Indians in North America is illegitimate, then any national state they created is also 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 groups like La Raza consider both colonialist and illegitimate. Americans are less likely to protest over the slow banishing of Columbus to the politically correct Gulag of history, than over banishing America itself, which was named after another one of those colonialist explorers, Amerigo Vespucci. 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 Fourth of July. And as Columbus Day joins the list of banned holidays in more and more cities and states across the country, one day there may not be a Fourth of July, just a day to remember the atrocities of the colonists against the indigenous inhabitants of the continent, to be remembered with PBS documentaries comparing George Washington to Hitler and calling the Declaration of Independence a colonialist mandate. Such documentaries already exist, they just haven't gone mainstream. Yet.
We celebrate Columbus Day and the Fourth of July because history is written by the winners. 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 doubtlessly been just far uglier. The different perspectives on history often depend on which side you happen to be on.
To Americans, the Alamo is a shining moment of heroism. To the Mexicans who the heirs of a colonialist empire far more ruthless than anything to be found north of the Rio Grande, the war was a plot to conquer Mexican territory. And neither side is altogether wrong, but choosing which version of history to go by is the difference between whether you are 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.
That is the ultimate goal of political correctness, to kill America's soul. To stick George Washington, Patrick Henry, Jefferson, John Smith, James Bowie, Paul Revere, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and all the rest on a shelf in a back room somewhere, and replace them with timelier liberal heroes. Move over Washington, Caesar Chavez needs this space. No more American heroes need apply. Followed of course by no more America.
This is how it all begins. And that is how it ends. Nations are not only destroyed by atomic bombs or economic catastrophes, they are lost when they lose any reason to go on living. When they no longer have enough pride to go on fighting to survive.
The final note of politically correct lunacy comes from a headline in the Columbus Dispatch about the Columbus Day festival in the city of Columbus, Ohio. "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?