Tancredo: Dump Columbus Day for White Guilt Day?

A 06 October 2007 photo shows the statue of Christopher Columbus at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station in Washington, DC.

Columbus Day is under attack again, and there’s more at stake than Italian- American pride. The campaign against Columbus Day is not anti-Italian, it is anti western civilization.

October 12 has been a federal holiday since 1931 and this year, President Obama issued the customary Presidential Proclamation on October 9. Colorado was the first state to celebrate Columbus Day in 1907. Twenty one states officially celebrate it as a state holiday as well. But none of that matters to the crusaders for “Indigenous People’s Day.”

Colorado has held a Columbus Day Parade since 1909, and legislation to eliminate or change Columbus Day was defeated in the state legislature only a year ago on a bipartisan vote. But none of that stopped the 12 Democrats on the Denver City Council from declaring last week that henceforth, October 12 will be known as “Indigenous People’s Day.” Ten other cities and the state of Vermont– all of them controlled by “progressives” — now recognize Indigenous People’s Day in place of Columbus Day.

You may well be asking, if representatives of Native American tribes insist on a new holiday to recognize “indigenous peoples,” why not do that and leave Columbus Day alone? The answer is that the campaign against Columbus Day is not really about Columbus, it is about the alleged “racism” inherent in celebrating the arrival of Europeans in North America.

“Indigenous People’s Day” is the perfect expression of political correctness applied to national holidays. To the progressives, Columbus Day must be abolished because it is implicitly racist, and America must atone for its sins by abolishing it.

But if “racism” is the underlying issue with Columbus Day, why replace it by another holiday based explicitly on racism? Celebrating “Indigenous People” means celebrating people of one particular race, American Indians, as more virtuous and therefore superior to people of another race– white Europeans.

Once you start down that muddy, slippery anti-Columbus road, there is no turning back. The anti-Columbus campaign makes sense only if the goal is to banish any recognition or celebration of the achievements not of Columbus the man but of Western Civilization. The progressives insist that all Americans must agree with them that arrival of Columbus and the European settlement that followed was a bad thing not a good thing.

Here is the crux of the matter. Columbus’s successful voyage of discovery in 1492 opened the New World to European exploration and settlement, and for multiculturalists, that is the Original Sin that must never be celebrated — and must never be forgiven.

That is why it is a mistake to think the battle over Columbus Day is important only to Italian Americans. The battle is important to all Americans because it is clear that this anti-Western crusade will not stop until October 12 is changed to White Guilt Day– not just in Denver or Phoenix or Chicago, but for all of America by way of congressional declaration.

To the progressives, it would not be enough to stop honoring the man Columbus and his achievements: Americans must accept our national guilt, admit the inferiority of Western Civilization , and begin the painful process of reconciliation with multicultural values. That is why they reject the suggestion of a separate Indigenous People’s Day in November. Celebrating the value and achievements of pre-Columbian Native American cultures would not be an explicit rejection of European civilization, and that is their primary objective.

It does not seem to disturb progressive politicians that changing October 12 to Indigenous People’s Day would be equally “racist” to marching in a Columbus Day Parade. Just like they do in other political arenas on other issues, when politically convenient they turn a blind eye to the historical facts, and it is a well established fact that many of the tribes of pre-Columbian North and South America practiced slavery on a wide scale.

The progressives are deeply committed to the lie and historical myth that Europeans invented slavery as a tool of colonialist (capitalist) exploitation and brought it to the peaceful, virtuous peoples of the New World. Both claims are flatly untrue.

The unvarnished, politically incorrect truth of the matter is that human slavery existed across the planet in dozens of cultures for thousands of years before Columbus and before the African slave trade brought slavery to the West Indies and America’s shores. Secondly, the indigenous peoples of the Americas practiced slavery among themselves centuries before the arrival of Columbus or Cortez. So, using slavery as the defining characteristic of racism has no basis in history or in logic.

So, the centuries-old practice of slavery has nothing to do with “racism,” but if that is your mantra, then the indigenous peoples of the Americas were as racist as the Europeans, Asians, Arabs and Africans who practiced slavery.

The indigenous tribes of North America not only practiced slavery among themselves for centuries before the arrival of Columbus, some of them readily adapted to the availability of African slaves once the African slave trade was established. There is ample historical record of the Seminoles, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw and Creek tribes owning African slaves in the pre-Civil War period. At the time of Columbus’ arrival, the Caribs practiced not only slavery but cannibalism.

The attacks on Columbus Day have little to do with the celebration of myriad Native American cultures, and if successful, the establishment of “Indigenous People’s Day” in various cities will not mean a halt to the attacks on Columbus and the “European migration.”

If the politically correct multiculturalists have their way, the only logical end game for the anti-Columbus campaign is to force Congress to terminate Columbus Day and substitute in its place White Guilt Day. Why settle for half-way measures?

Tom Tancredo is a former congressman and presidential candidate. Richard Sabell is an attorney in Denver and First Vice President of Sons of Italy Grand Lodge of Colorado.


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