Once upon an ocean blue in 1492, the “great” Italian Christopher Columbus sailed across the waters and discovered America.
It’s the foundation of so much of the start of liberties that we patriots are supposed to celebrate. It’s what’s been taught in schools for decades – or at least it was when I was a kid back in the 80s and 90s. Unfortunately, as lessons learned in my adulthood would show, despite the move toward an “understanding” that Columbus did NOT, in fact, discover America, the fabled story would still continue to misinform today’s populace as a celebrated, albeit renamed and deterred holiday here in the US under the name of “Indigenous People’s Day.”
This storyline would, of course, in this writer’s opinion, be a double slap in the face.
As a person with Italian American lineage (I recently even went back to my great grandfather’s original homeland country of Italy this summer) combined with an Indigenous connection to family who migrated through Mexico, today’s date is a bit strange to say the least. While I didn’t know all of the absolute horrors that the original colonialist did to the Indigenous ancestors of yore until MUCH MUCH later, I feel a bit remiss. None of the truth about the true atrocities of what Columbus did was ever taught to me as a child. The truth, I would learn, was painful to share on the levels I did with this horrible historical and yet still revered and celebrated American “hero.” Instead, I had to deliberately seek it out.
Surely this “great” Italian of the 15th century couldn’t be that horrible could he? He couldn’t be the horrific pillaging, raping, abusive, hateful toxic global terrorist that scholars have him in a 2016 scholarly book called Phases of Terrorism in the Age of Globalism which compares Columbus to Osama bin Laden?
But oh it was. History has unraveled us to know better now.
Older me, with these mixed backgrounds and knowledge feels ripped off… and lied to. I feel, sadly, that this lack of learning the truth in my upbringing is tied to another part of ongoing American history: the love of playing the part of the American design of cognitive dissonance.
Some folks will continue to press forward the narrative that Columbus, and this day, should be celebrated nonetheless. This sentiment is one shared across the aisle. “Happy #ColumbusDay. Christopher Columbus was a bold faithful follower of Christ who kept working toward his goal even though there were many excuses to quit. Shame on the Marxists at Google for hating Italian Americans so much they are ignoring this Federal Holiday,’ read one tweet by GOP Nominee for Arizona Secretary of State Mark Finchem.
“Italian Americans have a rich history in New Jersey. Today we honor the achievements, successes, and heritage of Italian immigrants and Italian Americans. #ColumbusDay”, read another tweet by Democratic New Jersey governor Phil Murphy much to the chagrin of his constituents.
Ah yes, here comes the display of yet another historical American pastime: division among the parties and within the parties themselves in the sake of blind and ignorant “patriotism.”
As the years pass, it becomes ever more important to be mindful that American history is one that was written by and for a certain purpose. It is not one that, I have learned, has been taught the hard truths of the failings of the white men in the mass stories of commercialized American history books. It is not one that is meant to unify anything in its truth than blind false worship of undeserving often and frequently (read: most all of them) idols. Our true American history is one which would make a critical thinker and ardent student feel shame – not patriotism. It’s a dark, divisive truth that has made me embarrassed and angered for both sides of my genealogical spectrum.
We need to take responsibility for the actions of our horrific past and use our collective voices and actions like several on Twitter are doing already to work toward a better and more honest and compassionate tomorrow. It’s only going to get there if we do the hard and necessary work. American history needs to stop playing the charade. But for now, I’m just going to say “F*** Columbus and everything you stand for… especially what you did to my other ancestral side of American history. Shame on you.”
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