This past Monday was Columbus Day, a federal holiday in the United States which marks the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s coming to the Americas. In recent years, the holiday has come under attack because of Columbus’s somewhat controversial status. Because of his ill treatment of the native peoples he encountered and the fact that he was beat to the Americas by the Vikings, opponents of the holiday say that they either change the name or don’t recognize it altogether.
The problem with that is that in this world things are hardly ever black or white. The fact that this country recognizes July 4, 1776 as its independence day when slavery wasn’t abolished until 1865, women didn’t have the right to vote until 1920 and Jim Crow laws were done away with in 1965 just goes to show this. Nothing in history is ever perfect but that doesn’t mean it deserves to be erased.
While Columbus might not be one of the most admirable figures in history, what he did accomplish was and still is amazing, even if it was by mistake. So what if Columbus didn’t discover the Americas, his coming to the continent was the start of European connection with the Americas. This means that had it not been for Columbus who knows if the United States as we know it today would have even existed.
It is a mistake to try and look at ones point of views through the eyes of someone not only from a different culture but a different time period as well. It is not fair to hold Columbus to the standards of today and by doing so trying to discredit and delete him from history.
While we can agree that what Columbus did to the Native Americans he encountered was terrible and horrendous, the plain and simple fact is that none of us would be here right now had he not done it. With almost every great and celebrated event in history there has always been something awful done to accomplish it.
If we are going to get rid of Columbus Day then we should get rid of every holiday that involved any sort of nastiness: Thanksgiving and the 4th of July to name a few. History is not perfect and neither are most of figures and events in it but those people and events shaped the world we live in today and they deserve to be recognized and their days observed.