Today is the federal and state holiday of Columbus Day, which is observed by the
United States of America
and the fifty American States on the Monday closest to the anniversary of
Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World
on October 12, 1492. Although I would
prefer the day be observed only on the anniversary, it is nonetheless
appropriate to celebrate this day, a holiday that was intended not only to
acknowledge the event that led to the many blessings enjoyed by several hundred
million Americans, but the cultural and religious diversity of the U.S.A. in
In past years for Columbus Day, I have made several observations in my blog posts. I have explained how Columbus’ discovery, which was the result of his great observational and navigational skills, truly met the definition of discovery, with no slight whatsoever to the First Americans, as his accomplishment effectively removed the cover that was the Ocean Sea that had been dividing the two Hemispheres of the Earth, thus permanently bridging the two worlds. Although the Genovese discover who was working for Spain did not ever see the territory that now comprises the U.S., Columbus’ achievement eventually led to its founding, as he had begun founding European colonies in the Western Hemisphere. Note: the holiday honors
discovery, not his whole life.
I have observed in previous posts how Columbus brought Christianity and Western European Civilization with him, with its cultural contributions, such as modern science and the concepts of equality and liberty that developed more fully, including into representative government, the rule of law and the separation of powers—ideas that led to the recognition of slavery as immoral and to its eventual abolition. I noted, for example, how
liberated the Native Americans of the Caribbean Sea
from the viciously cannibalistic Carib tribe.
Later Christian European colonists would end other abominable practices,
such as human sacrifice committed on a massive scale. I have also noted the exchange of goods and
people between the Old and New Worlds that continues today.
I have also acknowledged in posts about Columbus Day the bad consequences of the meeting of the peoples of the two Hemispheres, whether intentional or not, such as the exposure to diseases for which the other population had no immunity, as well as the mistreatment by some of the Europeans after Columbus of the Native Americans and the suppression of Native cultures. The attacks by some Natives on the colonists are noteworthy, but because of the technological advantage of the Europeans, these were dwarfed by the atrocities, oppression and enslavement committed by the Europeans. Columbus himself had discouraged the mistreatment of Native Americans and it ought to be considered how there have been good relations between many Natives and Europeans over the centuries.
The celebration of Columbus Day as a state and federal holiday was first advocated for in the late Nineteenth Century by Catholics, particularly by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization, as a way to counter anti-Catholic bigotry by the majority Protestant Christians through the acknowledgement of the essential contribution to America of a Catholic. The point of the holiday, therefore, was to celebrate the diversity of
immigrants could maintain their faith and the positive aspects of their culture
while accepting the American creed and thereby fully become Americans. I note how this idea is in total opposition
to the current idea of “white” European Nationalism. Columbus Day, therefore, was intended as a
celebration of the Western concept of multiculturalism. Indeed, its original celebrations and those
of the 500th Anniversary of the Discovery of the New
World in 1992 were culturally inclusive, which is the manner in
which its celebration ought to continue.
Although other days should focus on Native Americans more particularly,
they ought not to be excluded from the celebrations of Columbus Day.
Columbus Day is, nonetheless, a holiday of affirmation particularly not only for Catholic Americans, but also for Italian Americans. The celebration of a Catholic Italian with an American holiday was opposed by some bigoted Protestant Northern Europeans, such as the Ku Klux Klan, who hates Catholics and non-Northern (“white”) Europeans, such as Italians. Therefore, the opposition to the celebration of Columbus Day is contradictory if it is based on some mistaken notion of cultural diversity. Indeed, the celebration of this holiday is the act of religious and cultural diversity its current opponents claim to support.
Happy Columbus Day! God bless