Americans by a 2-to-1 margin admire Christopher Columbus and think itБs a good idea to have a holiday named after the Italian explorer, a new poll released Tuesday reveals. The survey conducted by Marist College Б in concert with the Knights of Columbus Б found that 56 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Columbus while 28 percent had an unfavorable view, with the rest unsure. Likewise, 57 percent said itБs a good idea to have a holiday named after Columbus while 29 percent said itБs a bad idea and the rest had no opinion. Columbus is revered for helping discover America. Italian-Americans in particular consider him a symbol of progress and cultural pride. But ColumbusБ critics condemn him for the slaughter and enslavement of native peoples in the Caribbean islands. The Los Angeles City Council in August voted to eliminate Columbus Day and rename the holiday to honor Бindigenous, aboriginal and native people. Б
The survey found that support for Columbus is far from universal. Black respondents, by a 2-to-1 margin, had a negative view of Columbus Б 54 percent unfavorable compared with 25 percent favorable, with the rest undecided. By a margin of 54 to 33 percent, African-Americans also said it was a bad idea to have a holiday named after Columbus. Latinos, millennials and liberals were also more split on Columbus.
Whites and more moderate to conservative citizens overwhelmingly back Columbus. Another questions asks: БDo you think Christopher Columbus and other historical figures should be judged by the standards of conduct during the time they lived or by the standards of conduct today? Б More than 3 of 4 respondents Б 76 percent Б said they should be judged by the standards of their times, while just 16 percent said by the standards of today, while 8 percent gave no answer. Columbus Day will be celebrated on Monday, Oct. 9. ColumbusБ legacy has been a source of controversy in New York City. to determine whether monuments to historical figures on public grounds are Бoppressive and inconsistent with the values of New York CityБ Б and subject to possible removal or alteration. Italian-American leaders worry that Columbus statutes Б including the iconic one in the city s Columbus Circleб Б, though the mayor insists there are no plans to do so. The Knights of Columbus, the worldБ s largest Catholic fraternal organization, has long honored the Italian seafarer as an important Catholic figure. БHe was a man ahead of his time, who brought two worlds together and began the process that led to the founding of this country.
It is a testament to AmericansБ commitment to a fair reading of history that the explorerБs popularity has endured despite the unfair and hateful attacks by British propagandists, the Ku Klux Klan and revisionist academics, Б said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson. The survey of 1,224 adults was conducted Sept. 11-13, 2017, and has a margin of error of 2. 8 percentage points. Columbus Day, the second Monday in October, is a nationally recognized holiday. But itБs not recognized in Los Angeles, where I live. The City Council recently voted to get rid of Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous PeoplesБ Day, commemorating Бindigenous, aboriginal and native people. Б This movement sees Columbus as a symbol of destruction, and thus not to be celebrated. This new day was first adopted in Berkeley, California in 1992. Since then, itБs spread across the nation with increasing speed, as more than 60 cities from Maine to Washington have supported the idea. While there is plenty to criticize about Columbus, and what followed his arrival, I think this movement is missing the point. History, in fact, is the story of conquest. We may not like it, but it s our shared heritage. Not just Europeans, but everyone. The point is not to excuse the worst that happened, but to understand it.
It is true that the conquest of the Americas by Europeans, which starts with Columbus, was very ugly, and involved a lot of violence. But that, for better or worse, is how history worked pretty much everywhere for thousands of years. (Though it should be noted a large portion of the deaths of Native Americans was due to disease, not violence–an inevitable consequence of Old World illness in New World soil. Europe, Asia and Africa, of course, suffered through numerous plagues of their own. ). History, in fact, is the story of conquest. We may not like it, but itБs our shared heritage. Not just Europeans, but everyone. While there is only limited knowledge of what pre-Columbus America was like, it did feature war, slavery, torture and plenty of brutality. The point is not to excuse the worst that happened, but to understand it. And to see that it is not the essence of Columbus, but rather part of the times. With all that, there are reasons to celebrate Columbus Day. — Celebrate Italians (though there is some question as to whether Columbus would have considered himself an Italian — he was long thought to have been born in Genoa, then an independent city-state in what is now Italy, though everyone from Greece to Portugal to Poland have claimed him as their own).
Nevertheless, Italians claim him today and Columbus Day is a good chance to recognize what Italians have contributed to America, and the world. — Celebrate the spirit of exploration. It took tremendous bravery to sail off into the unknown. One of the best parts of our humanity is that sense of discovery. — Celebrate the spread of Western civilization. Lately a lot of people have been putting down Western civilization, but its spread is one of the greatest things thatБs ever happened to humanity. The West has its good and bad points, but its best ideasБequal rights, freedom of religion, free speech, due process, open scientific inquiry, property rights and so onБhave helped all people who adopt them. (Not that the West solely had these ideas, but it put them in a package that wasnБt generally available elsewhere. ) Indeed, the promise of the West has delivered freedom and bounty such as humanity has never known. And, while we celebrate Columbus Day, we can learn from history and also take time to honor Native Americans. They were the original immigrants to the New World, and deserve their remembrance. Once we do this, Columbus Day can be a truly inclusive holiday. It neednБt be a battleground, but a chance to celebrate the best within us.