Catholic organizations are fighting to protect Columbus Day against Antifa and similar groups, pointing out that calls for abolishing the holiday are rooted in the same anti-Catholic bigotry that, in part, gave rise to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).
Christopher Columbus was an Italian who received a commission by the Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to sail west in search of a trade route to the Far East. He embarked with three ships on August 3, 1492, on a planned trip around the world.
He discovered that this planet was much larger than expected, with two additional continents and an extra ocean between Europe and Asia. On October 12, 1492, Columbus landed in North America, discovering what Europeans termed the “New World” as well as the people who lived there.
The United States celebrates the second Monday of each October as Columbus Day, a day which is a special source of pride to Italian Americans.
However, some groups perennially disparage Columbus Day. This opposition started in the late 1800s, driven by groups like the KKK. Some of the opposition was anti-Catholic (especially opposition to the Knights of Columbus), some of it was specifically anti-Italian, and some was more broadly anti-immigrant. Much of it was all three.
But in recent years, the far left has singled out Columbus Day as the epitome of European colonialism and imperialism, calling for dumping the holiday or replacing it with Indigenous Peoples Day.
In 2017, some in the militant Antifa movement are actually calling for lawless and criminal acts on Columbus Day, ominously announcing that October 9 shall be “Deface Columbus Day.” Antifa leaders have not elaborated on precisely what they are planning for the holiday, but some people are apprehensive, given the group’s growing record of violence.
The Knights of Columbus and other Catholic groups are pushing back to peacefully defend their faith and their heritage, especially a lesser-known group called the National Christopher Columbus Association (NCCA).
NCCA has launched an ad calling out this anti-Catholic bigotry by name. They’ve also set up a website, TruthAboutColumbus.com, to counteract the KKK and Antifa’s anti-Catholic propaganda with historical materials about the discovery of the Americans by Europeans.
“Up to now, the campaign of flawed history and misinformation against Columbus has been allowed to proceed with barely any pushback,” said Patrick Korten of the NCCA. “TruthAboutColumbus.com will help set Columbus’s record straight and serve as a reminder that, as new Marist polling shows, the majority of Americans support celebrating Columbus and his key role in our history.”
The poll referenced by Korten revealed 57 percent of Americans think celebrating Columbus Day is a “good idea” (29 percent disagree), while 76 percent believe that historical figures like Columbus should be judged according to their times instead of according to modern conceptions and ideas (16 percent disagree). Fifty-eight percent had a positive view of Columbus.
The survey was of 1,224 adults and conducted September 11–13. It was commissioned in part by the Knights of Columbus.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.