Does anyone really still believe that Christopher Columbus is an Italian worth celebrating? As far as Italians go, he’s probably the only one that could out asshole Italy’s other biggest asshole, Il Duce, Mussolini. Columbus’ record of super-villainy is unassailable. Don’t believe us, read the man’s own words from his journals. Just make sure you have a bucket handy, some of his disgusting deeds against human beings would make James Wan cringe.
For reasons that are blatantly obvious, there has been a blowback to FDR’s enshrining of Columbus as a hero deserving of a national holiday. Initially, the pro-Columbus pressure came from a Catholic group of Italian Americans who decided that Columbus was their man to bolster Italian heritage in the U.S. Of course, Columbus was never even in North America, and in the years since his “landing,” Italian-Americans have given us plenty of better options.
40 years ago, a council at the UN moved that celebrating Columbus was just plain dumb. That was 1977. By 1990, South Dakota, Berkley, and Ecuador had replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrations because, duh. Since then, a laundry list of cities started celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day with some states just dropping Columbus Day all together without replacing it.
Most recently, cities like Phoenix, Denver, and Asheville (to name just a few) joined Vermont by embracing Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The tide is turning against Columbus at last and hopefully the next president will see fit to finally remove this toxic man from our national identity. Then there’s the matter of all the towns, rivers, and other landmarks named after him (we’ll tackle that next).
The question remains, who will Italian Americans pick to replace Columbus to celebrate their identity and contribution to the American zeitgeist (to be celebrated on a different date, of course)? There are so many amazing Italian-Americans to choose from. It’ll be hard. Enrico Fermi, Caesar Cardini, Antonio Meucci, Ferdinando Siaramataro to name only a few of the Italians who made pretty great contributions to America. Heck, even Leonardo DiCaprio would be okay.
Our vote goes to Oscar-winning actress and activist Marisa Tomei — she seems like the perfect replacement.
For more on Indigenous rights, check out:
- The Case Against the Name ‘Redskins’
- The Painful History of Fry Bread
- The Chef Fighting To Restore Native American Food Culture
- Native American Sites For Your Travel Bucket List