Saturday, October 07, 2006

It's Columbus Day again, and the hate goes on!

Well, it will be this Monday but I decided to get an early start.

Usually once I've written a post I forget about it and move on, but by sheer serendipity, while I was considering if I was going to write another post about the folly of loving or hating Columbus day, last year's post on the topic got a recent response. Since I doubt anyone remembers what I said, you can check out my post here. I summed it up with this:

To that end, if enough of you support me, I will begin a "Forgive and Forget Columbus Day" movement to end both our observation of the heroics of this nobody who didn't discover America and the counter-trend toward resentment of this holiday. Perhaps we could have, in its place, a "America Discovery Day" where we could all celebrate the date our ancestors got over here

Although I was being rather flippant, the sentiment is true. Who cares about this guy? Look, as far as firsts go, his is pretty lame. Take this absolutely true statement for example: "Neil Armstrong was the first human to set foot on the moon". Yes, the first human. Of either sex, of any race, any language, any time period. He was the first ever! But Columbus now, Columbus' first was this: "Columbus was the first European that the Taino of the Caribbean saw." "Wait!" you cry. "But what about him discovering the Americas?". Uh, dude, that's what the Indians did. Some Paleo-Indian guy (or woman) was the first human to set foot on the Americas. "Ok!" you say. "But what about Europeans?" Well, that was the Vikings. And the reason they failed to continue their occupation is believed to be because the Little Ice Age changed climactic conditions so much that they could no longer survive on Greenland. So Columbus was the first European to rediscover the Americas. Is that a great accomplishment? Well, it was his rediscovery that paved the way for settlement. Of course, if you believe Jared Diamond, it was pretty much inevitable for that expansion to happen anyway. So why blame Columbus because he was the first European of the second wave (the first being Vikings)?

And finally, you might say, "Well all that is true, but it was his voyages that paved the way for the founding of the US. Aren't you happy about that?" Well, of course I love this country. But does that mean we have to honor the worst parts of our history as well as the best? Absolutely not. I'm proud our country fought and beat those Nazi bastards in WWII, but I'm not proud of the relocation of the Japanese-Americans. My ancestors helped the Colonies overthrow British rule, but the US eventually committed genocide on my people. I'm proud of one but not the other, and what idiot would be?

Why can't righties (and lefties sometimes) not hold those contradictions in their minds? America is a good country. That does not mean we should pretend Americans were always saints. And just because our ancestors did something bad in the past is no reason to hate America today.

Here's the new comment that appeared recently on last year's post:

Here we go again. Another year, another chance for Leftist hatemongers to bash and badmouth Columbus day. They view it as a day of infamy when those "evil Europeans" came to the New World.

It makes you wonder -- why exactly we are supposed to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month , then? The Spanish were the first to arrive, and Spanish culture wiped out much of the native culture. Our Leftist loudmouths have some strange racial (and racist) hierarchy going on. Conquistadors = okay. Pilgrims = monsters. (As an aside, this parallels the demonizing of the Puritans' religiosity as crazed extremism, while lauding Muslim's far greater piety as "their culture" which should be "respected".)

Second, none of these bigots is ready to correct the "mistake" of human migration and give up the deeds of their house to some American Indian tribes and pack up for the Old World. I guess that would spoil the fun of the ritual badmouthing, whining, demonizing, preaching and the feeling of superiority that comes every year on Columbus Day.

This is obviously a right-wing rant by someone who's got his talking points well prepared. Unfortunately, like so many righties, he has no grasp on reality.

They view it as a day of infamy when those "evil Europeans" came to the New World.

No, they view it as a day of sorrow because it marks the beginning of the extermination of the native peoples who lived here. Although estimates vary widely, as much as 95% of the population of the New World died because of Europeans, either directly or indirectly. Is that not something to mourn?

It makes you wonder -- why exactly we are supposed to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month , then? The Spanish were the first to arrive, and Spanish culture wiped out much of the native culture. Our Leftist loudmouths have some strange racial (and racist) hierarchy going on. Conquistadors = okay. Pilgrims = monsters. (As an aside, this parallels the demonizing of the Puritans' religiosity as crazed extremism, while lauding Muslim's far greater piety as "their culture" which should be "respected".)

No parallel. They don't have a Cortez Day or DeSoto Day. They're not celebrating Spanish culture either. Mexicans and other Hispanics in this country are celebrating their own heritage, much like we celebrate our heritage for the 4th of July, President's Day, etc. You probably don't eat roast mutton and bread pudding for any of those days any more than the average Mexican-American eats gazpacho for their holidays. (As an aside, comments like this guy's pretty much only serve to show people how nutty right-wingers are). Puritans (or Pilgrims, if you're conflating everyone) were religious extremists. That's why they left continental Europe. Muslims are not by default extremists. Of course, this guy is probably so ignorant he doesn't understand that. By his logic, if any of a group are extremists, all are extremists. In that case, please refer to my post "Hate in the Heartland", which, according to him, must prove that all Christians are extremists.

Second, none of these bigots is ready to correct the "mistake" of human migration and give up the deeds of their house to some American Indian tribes and pack up for the Old World.

Two problems with his suggestion. First, most of the people who protest Columbus Day are natives. So...where's the hypocrisy in that? Second, most natives don't espouse the idea that people of non-native descent should go back home. If we don't, why should they feel the need to?

I guess that would spoil the fun of the ritual badmouthing, whining, demonizing, preaching and the feeling of superiority that comes every year on Columbus Day.

You know what I've always found to be true is that people tend to accuse others of what they themselves are guilty. And it's certainly the case that righties like to see themselves as persecuted. For example, because they can't force other people to pray in school, they're persecuted. Because they have to tolerate the existence of gays, they're persecuted. Because they're chastised when they make ignorant statements about Muslims, they're persecuted. Righties, get over it. We don't care about you, and we couldn't care less how you choose to live. We just don't want you telling us how to live. That's not persecution; that's tolerance.

That's enough about righties though. Lefties, please get with me on this "America Discovery Day" proposition. I'm serious! Don't go out and get in fights with fat Italian-American guys on Columbus Day, don't go out and protest the parades and whatever else you might do. Calmly either call or write your local newspaper, tell them that Columbus Day is exclusive and archaic and suggest that your local town observe a day that honors all our ancestors. Then do the same with your elected representatives. We can get this done! But don't hold on to the same old point about how all Columbus did was evil!

13 comments:

adam said...

Love it or leave it, Nat.

Xanthippas said...

I thought it was more of a "We love it, so they should leave it" sort of thing.

Seriously though...I like the American Discovery Day idea; not flippantly, but seriously. Why not?

Nat-Wu said...

I admit that's not a catchy name though. It could use a better one. But I really think it's time to move on past Columbus Day.

Dee said...

~Perhaps we could have, in its place, a "America Discovery Day" where we could all celebrate the date our ancestors got over here.~

But when do we celebrate the day when my ancestors were already here to greet your ancestors?

Just kidding! Well, sort of. :)

Fan Boy said...

An Open Letter the the commentor who caused the rebuttal posting -

I am a Right Wing Christian Evangelical, I am not a left leaner.

That said, you should not let politics hold sway your oppinion on an issue that so clearly is held historically incorrect.

Columbus Day, while I don't despise it, I certainly understand those who do. Historically speaking as the "Day of Emphamy" is memoralized for our honered dead, this day marks the catalyst that led to the Pre-European dominance of the America's.

Strictly speaking, we know that Columbus Day is historically inaccurate, that Christopher Columbus was not the heroic founder of the America's. Yet we insist on celebrating a day that most American's know from high school history and on is a complete farce.

Columbus Day should be ended, not because of once race or another etc. It should be ended because it celbrates a lie that has been perpetuated by mythos and inaccuracy with more than a dabbling of what if's and speculation.

Columbus did not even arrive in the America's on the date preported by dimly written historically inaccurate text books.

Saying Christopher Columbus Discovered America, and that he alone was the sole reason for colonizations is like saying that Noah on the Ark only took 2 animals of every kind on the ark and that the remnant of 144,000 left as gret witness to the world will not be Jewish Male Virgins.

Nat-Wu said...

Dee, if you're talking to me, the original poster, I am one of those whose ancestors were already here. But we got here at a certain point in time too (unless you really believe we were created here). We can still celebrate our ancestors finding this beautiful land making a home here.

Nat-Wu said...

"Columbus Day should be ended, not because of once race or another etc. It should be ended because it celbrates a lie that has been perpetuated by mythos and inaccuracy with more than a dabbling of what if's and speculation."

That's good enough. But I still say we should all celebrate our ancestors finding their way over here.

Fan Boy said...

I believe the 4th of July sufficiently and accuratly celebrates the gathering of all cultures and the founding of our independance as a nation.

We need to celebrate our unity not those things that would and are used to divide us from our common man.

Independance Day is a celebration of Freedom and on that day we should give homage to those who walked the streets, made the costly trips and paid our debts in blood in a brave new world.

Nat-Wu said...

Independence Day celebrates exactly that. If you don't feel the need to honor your ancestors, then yes, that is sufficient for you. But a lot of people (yes, even white people) like to celebrate their own specific heritage as well as their American heritage.

I have never agreed with your viewpoint that celebrating diversity leads to disunity. The American culture overall is a hodge-podge of different cultures, and Americans do not have one overarching culture. I think the idea that we do or should have such a thing is fallacious to say the least, and arrogant at worst. I mean, what one culture are you advocating we recognize? The McDonald's culture of uniformity that so many people identify as American?

No, that's not what most people want, and given that this is a democracy, let's give them a holiday that celebrates that. Discovery Day!

Fan Boy said...

Nat-Wu,

National Holidays are celebrated because they have indisputable direct connection to major events or individual personalities that altered, drove, and other wise directly influenced the course of American History.

This is true of all of Holiday's minus one - Labor Day - which is the recognition of the working man. There are only 10 Federally recognized Holidays for this reason.

I am against Columbus Day because of its inaccuracy. I am against a national Heritage day because it does not fit the accepteed paradigm of what should be a Federally observed holiday.

I don't disagree that there should be times set aside to celebrate one's heritage. I don't believe it should be a Federally Rocgnized Holiday but should be a National Observance Day - which there are major differences.

Nat-Wu said...

Thanksgiving is about as truth-based as Columbus Day, but it's a national holiday. How can you say it has a "direct connection to major events or individual personalities that altered, drove, and other wise directly influenced the course of American History"? What about Christmas, for that matter, or New Year's Day? Instead of coming up with entirely artificial reasons to have a holiday, perhaps we should celebrate whatever we feel should be celebrated as a people. I think celebrating our ancestry, whatever it may be, is certainly something worth celebrating as a nation.

Fan Boy said...

Nat-Wu,

You will not find Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years day on the List of Federally observed holidays but as National Holidays -
Your heritage day belongs in line with them, not days such Memorial Day, July 4th, etc. etc.

Your still arguing that I don't want the holiday, I have alrady said I do - I don't want it as a Federal Hoiday though.

Nat-Wu said...

There is only one kind of national holiday. I don't see the distinction you're making.

"Strictly speaking, the United States has no national holidays since each state designates holidays through the legislative process or by executive order. The United States Congress can legally designate holidays for federal employees and for the District of Columbia."