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USA: No More Columbus Day at Brown University

In response to protests from Native American and other students, the prestigious Brown University in the United States has changed the name of the national public holiday Columbus Day to “Fall Weekend” on its academic calendar.

Bloggers are debating this modification of a holiday that honors the European explorer Christopher Columbus for “discovering” America in 1492.

First Landing of Columbus on the Shores of the New World. Painting by Discoro Téofilo de la Puebla.

First Landing of Columbus on the Shores of the New World. Painting by Discoro Téofilo de la Puebla.

Some celebrate the Brown change as a form of acknowledgment of the genocide of America's indigenous peoples; others denounce what one conservative blogger sees as, “Idiot College Liberals Ruin[ing] Another Holiday.”

Conversation Nation details the name change:

Hey Christopher Columbus, what can Brown do for you? They can take your name off a holiday.

The faculty at Brown University voted to drop the name Columbus Day after protests from a Native American student group on campus

The fall school holiday will now be known as the more generic “Fall Weekend” The faculty has control over the academic calendar and Brown officials don't plan to intervene

Some Native American groups maintain Columbus Day should not be celebrated, citing his “violent mistreatment of Native Americans”

Officials from Italian American groups in Providence slammed the decision telling The Providence Journal that Columbus should be recognized as a hero who discovered America

[…]

It's a federal holiday but several states and some other colleges have changed the name. Should they?

“Ignatius Reilly”, writing on Right Pundits, says:

[…]

I have news for Brown University students: most of the Founding Fathers owned slaves, Lincoln mistreated his wife, Malcolm X was a complete sexist, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy were womanizers, and ALL of them were completely unacceptably politically incorrect by today’s standards. If you want to go down this road and judge people by today’s standards, then we cannot honor anything in America’s past.

Oh, and another thing, Native Americans went to war with and conquered each other, and also treated women really badly, so we can’t really celebrate them either […]. After all, life sucks.

[…]

Responding to another critique of the change, Left of Boston comments:

[…]

Columbus… enslaved and raped the people who he encountered in Central America and brought disease, as many of the other explorers did. Those are the facts, they're well documented […].

[…]

Columbus Day is an occasion where revisionist history prevails. We try to see him in a positive light to cover up what he actually did. He did not actually discover America (there were several who had before him), so the premise of why we have Columbus Day is interesting to consider.

[…]

It is possible to see this as “political correctness,” but when we celebrate someone who enslaved people – there's no reason to be politically correct.

[…]

2 comments

  • James

    Here is a scenario:

    Country A invades Country B
    Country B invades Country C
    C invades A

    Who is the worst and why?

    The fact of the matter is that war comes around and goes around. Being PC will not fix what people do to each other.

  • ibn Adolf

    I agree that a lot of political correctness is totally off the wall. But in this case, try to look at it objectively: An adventurer arrives, steals your land, enslaves you and your family and a bunch of other stuff, not all of it unpleasant.

    Sure, he may have had endearing qualities. Who knows?

    Who cares? Columbus symbolizes the “discovery” of America and the subjection of the Indians. He also founded one of the most extensive empires in history, the Spanish colonial empire. Anybody with a résumé like that is going to be controversial.

    Perhaps the Brown decision was wrong. But it is certainly defensible on grounds of equity and common-sense. There’s no excuse for claiming that it is merely a case of spineless political correctness.

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