Sunday, October 07, 2012

Columbus Day Revisited

Tomorrow is a legal holiday for one of history's jokes. Christopher Columbus died disbelieving that he had stumbled upon a gigantic continent unknown to Europeans. Perhaps it is for that reason neither of the new continents is named for him. More likely they aren't named for him because his contemporaries knew him to be the lucky fool that he was. This loser gets a holiday because Franklin Roosevelt was courting the Italian vote in the East.

Indigenous Americans do not have a holiday dedicated to them. There is no national observance for the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who died from exposure to new diseases. There is no national holiday for the thousands of men, women and children who were seized and sold as slaves. There is no national holiday for any of the several massacres of men, women and children who stood in the way of America's sense of manifest destiny.

Don't get me wrong. I love holidays. Everyone should have one or two. I'm glad the Italians consider this one theirs, it's just not a day of joy for everyone. October 12 is a day with heavy kharmic implications to indigenous peoples of the Americas. On the other hand, October 10, thanks to the American proclivity to celebrate all holidays on the most convenient week-end, is just another day where a lot of folks don't have to work, and I'm all for that.