Today is Columbus Day in the U.S. Or is it? President Biden has declared that this holiday will also be known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day because Columbus is a controversial historical figure.
By Columbus we are talking about Cristoforo Columbus, the Italian naval explorer. He brought Europeans to the Americas, funded by the Spanish throne and the Catholic Church. Many Italian Americans are proud of his legacy but other groups are not, particularly Native Americans who were displaced by the Europeans that came after him.
So should we cancel him? Should we throw his statues away?
Cities around the U.S. are arguing over this but it is worth noting that Columbus was one of many Europeans leading ships around the world in pursuit of land and fortune. Had he not been “first” to the Americas, someone else would have been. European migration was much bigger than one man. As with most cancel cultural movements, it is worth asking: Is there a baby in this bathwater?