Opinion: Columbus Day – Yay or Nay?


WSPN’s Amira and Tamira English give their opinion on the celebration of Columbus Day.

Amira English and Tamira English

Christopher Columbus… a brave hero or a monstrous villain?

This is an extremely controversial question that very few Americans take the time to think about. Yes, getting the day off from school is a treat, but have you ever sat and pondered, “what am I really celebrating by accepting this day off?”

At first, one may argue that Columbus Day focuses on the beginning of the age of exploration which shaped Western history. Without Columbus, Western civilization would be different in many ways. Whether or not Columbus was good or bad, we still acknowledge the fact that he planted the seeds for the connection of the Old and New Worlds.

Columbus did connect the New World to the Old World, but did both parties benefit from this connection? People who think that it did benefit both don’t understand the degree of the negative effect the cultural collision had on the Native American people. We believe Columbus Day shouldn’t be celebrated; or, at the very least, it should be labeled differently so that the holiday acknowledges the many Native American lives taken by Columbus and the many other Europeans that came to the New World with him.

Yes, we can’t deny the fact that Columbus’ excursion across the Atlantic Ocean was a very courageous act. It takes a lot of effort to travel across the Atlantic Ocean four times in boats that aren’t properly suited for the harsh ocean waves. He also brought over and introduced foreign crops, livestock, and steel guns to the Americas. We can’t dispute the positive things that he did to help advance a region that had a very simple way of life. But we also can’t controvert the fact that an estimated 19 out of 20 million Native Americans were murdered by the Europeans. That’s upwards of approximately 90% of the Native American population! The biggest killer was smallpox. Native Americans were very vulnerable to the foreign diseases that the Europeans brought overseas.

Imagine one day you woke up, looked out your front door, and saw foreign invaders trespassing on your land. Imagine you then welcomed these invaders with open arms, giving them the benefit of the doubt and engaging in the trade of goods with these invaders, only to find out later that you would be forced into slavery and murdered by the same people you welcomed with open arms.

Still not convinced that Americans as a whole should stop celebrating Columbus Day? From betraying, exploiting, enslaving, infecting, and murdering indigenous peoples, name one reason why we should continue to support Christopher Colombus. Columbus is not someone to commemorate; he is an oppressor. He took advantage of the innocent natives by preying on their weaknesses. Over 60 cities and towns throughout the United States have taken a big step forward and have now completely stopped celebrating Columbus Day. They now celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead — the first one being Berkeley, CA in 1992. They were followed by Seattle, WA, Cambridge, MA, Portland, ME, Denver, CO, and a number of other places. If they did it, we can do it too. There’s nothing stopping us but our own chosen ignorance. It is wrong to knowingly celebrate a holiday that honors a person who completely annihilated a whole separate world of peaceful people.

It’s time for America as a whole to call out Columbus Day for what it truly is.

Opinion articles written by staff members represent their personal views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent WSPN as a publication.

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