Held every October, Columbus Day commemorates when Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Colombo) arrived in the Americas back in 1492. It became a federal holiday in 1937 and recognizes the explorer’s achievements. For years, there has been controversy as to whether the day should still be celebrated. It has been reported that favorable opinion for this is at 56 percent, and a college student poll revealed that almost 80 percent advocated for getting rid of the holiday altogether. Here are arguments for keeping the holiday and eradicating it from the calendar.
5. CON: What, a Discovery? PRO: Ocean-faring Skills
Columbus was not the first human to discover America, as there were already people living there. Instead, he claimed it for his country.
Columbus managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean four times, back in the day when ocean navigation was in its infancy. His resourcefulness is worthy of admiration.
4. CON: Torture and Slavery PRO: Technological Advancement
It is common knowledge that Columbus tortured and murdered native peoples, cutting off hands and worse. After setting foot on Hispaniola, he encountered the Taino people, who were unarmed. These natives were forced into slavery and received cruel punishments.
Without Columbus, our advanced civilization would not have taken off the same way. European civilization has had a strong influence on the Americas.
3. CON: Mass Genocide PRO: A Product of His Generation
Some historians feel that Columbus’s actions led to a mass genocide of millions and millions of Western Hemisphere inhabitants. His voyages were the beginning of the European invasion, and whole civilizations and tribes were decimated.
When Columbus arrived, times were much more violent. Some have compared Columbus and his colleagues to the Vikings, whose violence was legendary. Columbus was no different from his counterparts, and should not be judged by today’s standards.
2. CON: Under Arrest PRO: Not Opening a Can of Worms
Columbus was arrested in 1499 after Spanish leaders learned of his mistreatment of the Hispaniola natives. He was arrested and subsequently brought back to Spain.
If Columbus Day is abolished, it is quite possible that a trend to remove historical monuments and other national observations and landmarks will start. Soon enough, there will be no historical heroes left.
1. CON: He Did Not Visit the US PRO: Italian Heritage
The four trips Columbus made were to the Caribbean, South America, and Central America. He never made it to North America.
Italian descendants in this country might look to Columbus as one of their own, and feel a connection to the explorer. This has formed an emotional bond, and should not be questioned.
The Debate Continues
The majority of Americans do not really pay attention to this federal holiday unless they get to take the day off. Some still believe that it is part of the American heritage, and others protest celebrating a flawed hero. Each year as the date approaches, factions from both sides debate keeping it or removing it. Once the date passes, the topic returns to the back burner and stays there for another year.
About the Author
Ellen Kershner is a South Jersey-based writer who contributes to WorldAtlas.com, 55places.com, Natural Awakenings Magazine, Spryte Communications, Advanta Advertising, and Premier Legal Marketing. Her work has also been published by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Ed Hitzel’s Restaurant Magazine, and the Burlington County NJ Trend newspaper group.
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