Facing confliction over celebrating Columbus Day

By Anthony Garcia

October 16, 2013

Coming from a Puerto Rican household, I know firsthand the amount of pride and honor Latinos have in our heritage. I also know from being an American that this same mindset is deeply ingrained in our society and everyday life making the celebration of national holidays something special and full of enjoyment.

I just don’t really feel the same way celebrating Columbus Day, though.

I remember as a 14-year-old high school kid listening to my uncle rant and rave about how imperialistic the United States is and how Christopher Columbus is one of the most celebrated and commemorated murderers in the history of our time.

I never used to pay any attention to my uncle Raul because I figured he needed to be mad over any little thing the government did, even if it didn’t directly affect him.

Years later, after coming to DU and digging a little deeper into American history as well as my own personal history, I realized that he was right.

Christopher Columbus never “found” the New World; indigenous natives were here long before Columbus ever was.

Columbus did bring his version of civilization to the Americas, so kudos to him. He also brought the enslavement of Native Americans and Africans, foreign diseases and illnesses and exploited the land and its people for his own personal gain.

Congratulations, Columbus. You really are a fantastic man.

What I don’t want this piece to turn into is an anti-America, “I wish this country was never founded” column.

I love this country. I never want to leave this place that I call home and I am truly thankful for all the opportunities that I have been given so far in my lifetime.

I wish that more countries around the globe would allow the freedom that I enjoy in America to be given to their own people because the world would be a much safer and more beautiful place.

This doesn’t excuse the fact that we celebrate and honor a man every October that quite frankly, is as terrible and as despicable as any other tyrant in history.

There is a trend in America and in our society where we tend to sweep reality and truth under the rug, all in hopes to present a more pleasant and acceptable image.

ESPN will gladly report on the drama and legal issues on professional athletes, while ignoring those same topics when it comes to their own employees. Politicians bash and humiliate each other over actions that sometimes both parties have committed in the past during campaign races. School officials and department leaders will only support your voice or cause if it agrees with their own departmental policy or if it makes them look good.

Our society and history is plagued by case after case of hypocrisy, with Columbus Day being another prime example.  

The next time you decide to celebrate a national holiday, delve a little deeper into its history and decide if it’s something you full-heartedly support.

You never know, you might find out from your uncle about a holiday you love is based on a selfish, violent, egotistical conqueror that society just seemed to conveniently forget about.

Hope you had a nice Columbus Day.