In case you missed it, last year John Oliver walked us through a more authentic history of Christopher Columbus and how he supposedly “discovered” America. Turns out, this guy we’re celebrating Monday, was a genocidal maniac rapist. Most states still don’t recognize Columbus Day as an actual holiday. Instead, I hope you’re celebrating Native American Awareness Day.
The segment on Last Week Tonight states an impressive case against this as a federal holiday. The truth is that 1492 began “a long tradition of obnoxious white people visiting Caribbean islands and acting like they own the place” Oliver joked. Columbus is “famous for his discoveries — specifically, the discovery that you can ‘discover’ a continent with millions of people already living on it, that had already been visited by Vikings around 500 years earlier.” That’s the fact that should be taught in our schools.
“So America’s least-favorite holiday,” the report continued, “commemorates a murderous egomaniac whose most famous discovery was a case of getting lost and refusing to ask directions,” the narrator intones. “Columbus Day — how is this still a thing?”
Oliver suggests has a few alternatives like: Frank Sinatra Day or even naming a day after the people who really did find our land.
He even goes so far as to say that Native Americans are now basically in prisoner of war camps in the middle of the country. Powerful.
The reality is, Columbus Day is still a thing because it always has been a thing. I can’t imagine Congress respecting Native Americans enough to swap out the holiday, or even substitute for another famous Italian and acknowledge that at one point our leaders didn’t care about Native Peoples of the Americas.
So, here’s my thought: Columbus Day was signed under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration. As a New Deal-loving liberal, I acknowledge FDR did a stupid thing and it should be undone. There. That should give Republicans a bit of cover to make this happen.
Blame Roosevelt, you can be a “hero” by doing the right thing and all parties will support it. Problem solved.
Feature image from video capture.