Just got back from the Post Office, where I was surprised to learn it was Columbus Day! Woo-hoo! Break out the kazoos and the sparklers!
Just curious- has there ever been a time when the Federal Government has retracted a holiday? Times change, and I don’t know anyone who celebrates Columbus Day. I’m betting the vast majority of you had no idea, either, and really the only people who probably are aware are Native Americans (for obvious reasons), federal employees (again for obvious reasons), and people who teach grade school (also for obvious reasons). Is there really any point to this holiday anymore? And not to go all “if a tree falls in the woods” on you, but if no one is celebrating a holiday, how much of a holiday is it, really?
Why not review our list of Holidays and get rid of some and start celebrating stuff that really matters to the country? Get rid of Columbus day and give everyone the Monday after the Super Bowl off.
In the liberal utopia of South Dakota, we celebrate Native American Day today. Yeah for us
Davis X. Machina
Many businesses ignore it. Comp day is usually the Friday after Thanksgiving — much more family-friendly.
It would be a good day to begin unwinding the myth of Columbus, and teach the kids a more balanced view of the “discovery” of the “New World”.
It’s obvious around the DC Beltway. Traffic this morning was pretty much like an early Sunday morning.
Happy Thanksgiving to our Canadian amigos!
Just Some Fuckhead
I hear Columbus Day is a real hit with the Italian-American set.
I’ve always thought that Arbor Day should be much, much bigger. I mean, it actually has practical implications, and besides, who doesn’t like trees?
Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther
I’ll tell you what this holiday is good for — it gives me an excuse to link to Stan Freberg’s Columbus bit:
PS Yes, it’s ten minutes, but you really need to listen to the whole damn, side-splitting thing.
Replace it with Halloween.
Now there’s a day that every one knows!
I guess you don’t know any old-school Italian-Americans. They seem to have decided it’s some kind of national pride thing, thanks to Columbus supposedly being Italian. (See the Knights of Columbus.) Anyway, that’s what my older family members tell me when anyone suggests losing Columbus Day as a holiday.
You know who celebrates Columbus Day?
The Post Office. Was yours open? Mine’s closed. Which is good since someone managed to drive into my mail box. Now I have an additional day to restore it to vertical.
You git off Christoper’s case, if not for him, nobody would even git in the boat, let alone git out.
Why is this a holiday? I guess it’s pretty much because Columbus recorded the date he made landfall.
If only Eric the Red had kept a diary!
one thing you will learn from The Sopranos is that you do not fuck with Columbus Day,
Suck It Up!
Uhm, these people might have a problem with that and we’ll never hear the end of it from Rat Face Rudy – the greatest mayor EVER.
Columbus Day is a holiday because way back when, the unions asked for, and got, six(?) paid holidays to be distributed throughout the year. Most places no longer go along with this scheme, but the civil service still gets its days off. As do the banks.
As for the Super Bowl, just make the post-season shorter and have it the day before MLK Day. Problem solved.
OT, but someone will say something about the public display of autofellatio going on at andrewsullivan.com, yes? If Andy’s not careful, he will choke on the self-regard.
Are you an anti-Italian bigot? Italian-American love Columbus day – it is the only holiday they own.
Columbus day is the Italian-American equivalent of St. Patrick’s day, FWIW.
At least you are safe if you forget it is Columbus Day. I don’t think anyone is gonna yell at you for not showing the proper respect. Which happened to my roommate right after we moved into NYC many years ago. He went to buy stamps at the post office but it was closed for Veteran’s Day. He started mumbling about it and a woman confronted him about how it was the least we could do for all those who served our country. Lucky for him he was able to come back with “I served this country and all I want is to mail this stupid letter”
@Poopyman: I lived for a few years in Soviet Canuckistan, and I have to say: no matter how much sooner fall and winter arrive in Canada, Thanksgiving in early October is just wrong.
Still, Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, and Feliz Dia de la Raza!
PS: Cole, you forgot banks, and I have some serious banking that needs to be held off till tomorrow. Feh.
My daughter has school today, but had Friday the 8th off as “Fall Color Day.” Whatever the fuck that’s about…
We made it “Leave work early and go to Chicago for the Weekend Day.”
@ts: LOL. Scroll down the page.
@monkeyboy: but what about the possibility that Columbus may not have been Italian
I always just kinda saw it as “The Day We Learned About Christopher Columbus in elementary school.” Don’t think I’ve ever had the day off, although I think it corresponded with Senior Skip Day once in High School.
I’m not sure if there’s a real reason to retract Columbus Day. If no one takes the day off, it doesn’t really do any harm. If today becomes super important in the future, we can always just overwrite it.
I mean if we’re going to start axing Holidays, we’ve got Veterans Day AND Memorial Day that could probably just be merged into “Lip Syncing Your Patriotism Day” and save us some red white and blue balloon money.
That’s because it is an ethnic pride thing for Italian-Americans. FDR made it a national holiday in 1937 as a reward for his massive support from Italian-Americans dating back to his time as Governor of New York. More recently, when Arizona caught so much flack (in 1990, IIRC) for voting down MLK Day as a state holiday, the reason the measure failed was because it would have required losing Columbus Day as a state holiday, and the Italian-American community rallied to save it.
Bruce (formerly Steve S.)
Today is also Canadian Thanksgiving. FWIW.
Might be a good idea. Celebrating the inception of the greatest genocide in world history is a wee bit in bad taste.
The only thing I remember about Columbus Day was when I was a kid there was always a big protest by Native Americans in Denver. Well, big enough anyway to make the news. Don’t know if that still occurs.
Even as a kid, I didn’t care for the way that the colonization of the Americas was sanitized in schools. I guess my mom was more of a radical than I thought at the time, but she made sure we knew all the nasty details.
@Joel: Don’t they have “Jersey Shore” and various other Hollywood paeans to celebrate their rich heritage?
The only time I got off work on St. Patrick’s Day was when it fell on a weekend.
FWIW, Columbus Day is actually October 12. That’s the day his first expedition spotted land in the West Indies. It’s also the day Al Qaeda bombed the USS Cole.
And I celebrate Columbus Day every year on the proper day, thank you very much, but only because it’s also my birthday.
PS: I have a brother whose birthday is September 11th. If Al Qaeda ever bombs anybody on September 23rd (my other brother’s birthday), we’re going to go have a little chat with them.
as a contractor currently employed by the USPS I realized it was Columbus Day when nobody else showed up for work. So I am not going to be paid for today.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
Sopranos on Columbus Day
Tracy Chapman on Columbus: You were lost and got lucky
Columbus was once lost, but now he’s found.
“Just curious- has there ever been a time when the Federal Government has retracted a holiday?”
They traded 1-for-2 when Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s Birthday became Presidents’ Day. Heh, I’m old enough to remember 2 school holidays in February.
If the NFL gets stupid enough with its scheduling, the Super Bowl will fall on the Sunday before Presidents’ Day.
I don’t care what they call it or who decides to claim it but damn do we need a day off somewhere in February or March. Or even April. That calendar with nothing until the 4th of July is hard to stare at the first week in Jan.
As a former Fed, I took what they gave me. Would have rather had Christmas Eve or Day after Thanksgiving, but was never offered a choice.
I’ll remember Columbus Day from now on when Obama was declared officially “in over his head”; “arrogant”, etc. by Time Mag’s own infamous Halperin. May the prez rest in peace, as I’m sure he’ll be crushed and quite surprised by the people who hate him. Very sad:
@Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:
Flip Wilson also had a great bit about Columbus, performed on his TV show and also on the comedy album, Cowboys and Colored People. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find the bit or even a sample on the Web.
@sophronia: That’s pretty much it. This blog may now officially be on the Sons of Italy hit list. (Oh my! Was that just a culturally insensitive comment implying organized crime connections?)
As a Spaniard the treatment of October 12th in the US never ceases to amuse me, especially considering that AFAIK they couldn’t care less about the day in Italy proper.
I guess the Italians never managed to have a proper Italy day (they had finally become a country in 1870 and even after that they don’t do countrywide patriotism well) so that was the next best thing they could find.
God, I fucking hate football.
That is all.
As far as Columbus Day, one of my redder necked friends, surprisingly, posted this on his facebook: ” if you like robbing rapeing and killen then youd love christopher columbus !! the asshole dosent deserve a holiday !!”
Minus the grammar, it’s almost like reading Zinn.
But Columbus day is a great day for learning a bunch of wrong information and American Exceptionalism propaganda for schoolchildren, how dare you try to take that away.
Forget Columbus Day (as most of us have). Move Halloween to the last Saturday in October. Anyone who actually reveres that day for some religious significance sure as hell isn’t dressing up like SpongeBob and begging neighbors for candy!
No one DARE touch Flag Day! That’s my mom’s birthday dammit!
Columbus Day is for what I know a big day for Italian-Americans, but even then I can’t think of any Italian-Americans on a personal level who celebrates it.
Columbus Day has kinda fallen to the wayside much like Presidents’ Day (or however they celebrate Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays anymore). Partly for the political incorrectness of it (ooooh celebrating the colonization of the Americas and subsequent wiping out of the indigenous tribes!), but mostly because there’s really no emotional importance to it anymore. It happened over 500 years ago, so what? It’s not like it’s Veterans Day or the 4th of July or MLK’s birthday. It’s certainly not a religious time like Easter, Christmas, Ramadan or Yom Kippur.
The biggest concern BTW is the *lack* of a national holiday in August. Snifff whimper.
deleted bad link
and cat48 beat me too it.
They need to do the same with Veteran’s Day and Election Day. I can think of no better way to honor our veterans than with a federal holiday so that the citizens can participate in our democracy.
Which is why the Canadians decided that the first Monday in August was a holiday. (EDIT: Or at least some parts of Canada did)
Our local [public] elementary school district dropped Columbus Day as a holiday this year, opting instead for a full day off before Thanksgiving. There was little-to-no protest, either.
The high school (different district, don’t ask) and some of the private schools are still closed today though.
Not growing up around here, I don’t ever remember having Columbus Day off, but we did have Veteran’s Day and Lincoln’s Birthday (Illinois, natch) off. I didn’t have Washington’s birthday off, but Mom always made a cherry pie for dinner that day, with a top crust of cut-out axes, so it had that going for it.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
They always do… George Bush is a “man in full”, Saddam is an imminent threat, $200K/yr is middle class, John McCain is an insightful and thoughtful voice on foreign policy….
Well we had class today so its obviously not a state Holiday in Montana- I wonder if any Universities nationwide are closed?
@El Cruzado: Yeah, he’s celebrated as an Italian, but at best he’s a Genoan.
you can have my day off when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
A few random thoughts from CT… it seems like the municipality closes for every-damn-thing. I’m waiting for observance of Ground Hog’s Day.
The Italian contingent in my town actually has a small parade to celebrate Columbus Day, with locals dressed up, etc.
While it cheezed me off to leave my SO sitting at home (he works for a bank) in front of an NCIS marathon today when I had to come to work, at least traffic was light.
Apparently y’all didn’t notice the creeping expansion of the homosexual agenda into our precious bodily fluid space, today is also “National Coming out Day”
Now that might be remedied by elevating the cross-quarter days to holidays, but I’m not optimistic.
that’s what i thought… but upon further research: Lincoln’s b-day was never a federal holiday.
P.S. Instead of the day after the Super Bowl, I would gladly trade Columbus Day for a national holiday on the first Tuesday in November.
Another cross-quarter day!
I’m sensing the start of a movement here, folks.
Uncle Clarence Thomas
Fuck yeah! And while we’re at it, let’s make shoelaces out of steel so they’ll never break.
There is a big street fair on Broadway today. Obviously someone thinks it’s a holiday. What better way to celebrate the discovery of the New World, I reckon, than with a yummy gyro.
When I lived in Fairbanks my workplace (a Native Alaskan non-profit) celebrated Traditional Chiefs day instead of Columbus Day. That seemed about right to me. I don’t, however, see any point to continuing celebrating Columbus Day.
Arbor Day and Earth Day. Do we need both? Help shrink government by eliminating one of them!
Back in my old school days, Columbus day was mainly for learning the little ditty”
“In the year 1492
Columbus sailed the ocean blue”
And it was fun to chant ‘The Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria.”
All I ask is nobody mess with National Sandwich Day.
FWIW, the wingnut outrage that Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays were combined into President’s day in order to make room for MLK day is bullshit. Lincoln’s birthday was never a federal holiday (state holiday in many places, though) and the official federal holiday is to this day ‘Washington’s Birthday’.
I’m not aware of any federal holidays removed, just renamed. Veteran’s Day used to be Armistice Day. Memorial Day used to be Decoration Day.
Molti anni fa, when I was a lowly seasonal worker at the IRS, I arrived at work one day and couldn’t believe my good fortune at getting a good parking space for a change. I think it wasn’t until I encountered a locked door that I figured out it was Columbus Day.
@Joseph Nobles: First tuesday after the first monday in Nov. No federal holidays on the first of the month other than New Years due to the impact on government functions.
@Uncle Clarence Thomas: Too late!
Yesterday it was the girlfriend, a HS teacher, that reminded me it was Columbus day. She’s golfing today. I almost played hookey to join her. Glad I didn’t. I’m responsible for running our monthly quality assurance testing this week. My boss would have been driving to the course to drag me in. That is if they didn’t out and out can me.
@thalarctos: See my comment above – Lincoln’s birthday was a state holiday. The wingnuts were the ones that pitted MLK against Lincoln.
Under the Broad Banner of General Stupidity
Right wing gasbags aren’t too blame, dontcha know.
wut? Linky broken
oooh, I like it! Never gonna happen, but I like it.
@Martin: Ah, yes, thanks. :D
We used to have both Lincoln’s B-day and Washington’s B-day, but they were collapsed into Presidents’ Day (I believe to make room for MLK day).
I think that at various times Armistice Day was celebrated as a Holiday.
Rhode Island gets the day off for V-J day, but I’m not sure if this was ever celebrated anywhere else.
Thanksgiving is a harvest celebration, non? Why the heckitty have it in late November, well after the fields are empty (OK, in most parts of the continent) instead of at the time of year where the apples and squash are in full swing?
Anyway, early October is still very mild in southern Ontario. It was in the low twenties/low seventies on Saturday.
@General Stuck: You know the old saying: Right wing gasbags don’t kill people, Obamacare does.
I have argued for several years that after our last WWI veteran passes away (we presently have exactly 1 American WWI vet), we should move Veteran’s Day to the first Tuesday in November. No one gives a shit about what day we signed the Armistice with Kaiser Wilhelm on, but it sure would be nice for Election Day to be a national holiday.
Which, of course, is why the Repukes will never let it happen.
Me, I’m taking delayed comp day in honor of Canadian Thanksgiving. Not that I’m Canadian, but my current contract engagement is with a Canadian company so since none of them are at work to send me questions, I can take the day off.
@cleek: Oh, dear. Now I’m old enough to remember things that never happened. I remember it being celebrated; guess the days off were my fantasy…
George W. Bush had a creative solution for that problem…
What they ought to do is eliminate Columbus Day, and replace it with a federal holiday/day-off on Election Day.
As for the man himself, the situation was complex. He was a genocidal conqueror, but also a product of his time, and I question how different the colonization/invasion of the Americas would have progressed without him. A lot of the factors underpinning the process were systemic, like native vulnerability to disease as well as rising European technological and military power.
Europe would be significantly different without Columbus, though. No New World Empire means no Spanish dominance in the 16th century.
How true: Much of what we celebrate as “Italian” heritage here in America is really entirely a construction of American culture, and has little to do with Italy?
I get the sense many Italian-Americans are so desperate to be part of a tribe they will accept any tradition hoisted unto them, as long as it comes from Authority.
Same with the Irish, too.
Is it lack of self-esteem?
@Comrade Mary: Hey, our fields are still full! Clearly the pilgrims were prescient enough to pick a day in consideration of the 12 month southern california growing season.
Washington started the holiday in early October, so that’s probably the most historically accurate time. Lincoln later proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the last thursday in November. FDR moved it up a week to stretch out the holiday shopping season and locked it in on that date. Not kidding.
You want to know what really sucks – The eff-ing institute I work in gives us Columbus Day as a “floating” holiday (we can work it for regular pay and use the day later) but Veteran’s Day – a real holiday honoring real heroes is a eff-ing work day and I have to conduct Lab meeting that day! Twice! Bastards, I should have let the Soviet horde overrun their pasty petri dish swilling asses.
@Mr Furious: Shrub-Cutting Day! Call it the anti-Arbor Day. I like it.
Do you really think if the Powers That Be got rid of Columbus Day they would provide a replacement holiday? Or do you think it more likely they’d just us it as an excuse to ring one more day’s worth of “productivity” out of what is already by far the most over-worked labor force in the industrialized world?
The Powers That Be only do that kind of nice sh&t for fallen vampires with souls who date cheerleaders.
@Onkel Bob: If your bosses are wingnutty, tell them you have a prior commitment as a Nazi re-enactor. They’ll understand.
There’s a Columbus Day parade in Chicago that is apparently a big deal. As another commenter pointed out, Columbus Day is basically Italian-American Day.
Personally, I think Columbus was an idiot. He grossly miscalculated the circumference of the earth, and if America hadn’t been there for him to stumble upon, his crew would have run out of food and starved to death. He was actually surprised that the natives didn’t speak Arabic.
i think they did as part of the compromise to create the martin luther king day holiday. what used to be two separate holidays (washington’s birthday and lincoln’s birthday) were consolidated into a single holiday called “president’s day”. that way they could create the new MLK day without actually giving anyone any more time off from work.
at least that’s how i remember it.
Well, I prefer to think of today as Canadian Thanksgiving instead of Celebrate the Genocide of Native Americans Day.
Unfortunately, we are required to celebrate it here at the University by having an application (get your app fee waived!) day. Thus, instead of getting a day off to contemplate the sins of our forefathers or working but getting time and half or double time for working on a holiday, I get to work a 12-hour day as a salaried employee who, by definition, cannot get overtime or comp time.
Quaker in a Basement
The only thing I remember about Columbus Day was when I was a kid there was always a big protest by Native Americans in Denver.
Kind of a funny way to put it. The “big protest” took place at a parade, a parade honoring the achievments of a certain 15th century adventurer and wealth seeker. Jacy sounds like someone who gets the point, but I wonder why “the big protest” is more of a memory than the celebration that was being protested.
@upyernoz: No, that’s a wingnut lie. Lincoln’s was never a federal holiday. The national holiday is to this day still called ‘Washington’s Birthday’. There is no official ‘Presidents Day’.
Death Panel Truck
What a pandering fool your governor is, Cole. He’s gone on Fox News to insist that “Obamacare” should be repealed.
Manchin is toast. You have two Republican candidates for the Senate. Harry Truman said that when the public has the choice between voting for a real Republican and a fake Republican, they’ll pick the real Republican every time.
@Rosalita: No linky intended. Sorry for the poor execution. However, here’s a linky to Cross-Quarter days.
Wouldn’t having even MORE federal holidays shrink the government? I know traffic was a lot better this morning…
Amanda in the South Bay
Don’t forget, its also a three day weekend for stateside members of the military.
@Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:
I kinda prefer Firesign Theatre’s Temporarily Humboldt County.
Just curious- has there ever been a time when the Federal Government has retracted a holiday?
When I was young, we celebrated Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday, both of which got shit-canned and combined into one “President’s Day”.
I think we need Blizzard Day. Once a year, the day after a Blizzard product launch should be a holiday.
WoW: Cataclysm and Diablo III coming up!
As some commenters above have noted, our oppressive paternalistic crony corporatist slave masters have already eliminated some holidays, in a socially destructive way. Designed I might add, to maximize work hours, maximize mindless consumption of mass quantities, and minimize our understanding of our history and heritage.
And Cole wants to get rid of more? What kind of parasitical socialist is Cole, anyway.
We need more holidays! I figure at least 20 more holidays before we can catch up with the oppressed slaves of European socialist totalitarianism.
As the downtrodden father of one my European friends says every time he visits here:
“You Americans are crazy. You should work to live, not live to work.”
Poor old man, destroyed by years of living under socialist tyranny, I feel sorry for him. He just doesn’t ‘get it’. He is so poor, he does not even have a garage crammed full of expensive stuff he never uses. I asked him, and he admitted, probably not even realizing what that meant.
So, I say add the football day to Columbus day, and make them both federal holidays.
As soon as the violent controversy is resolved, we should also adopt Waffle Day as a national holiday. I am for International Waffle Day, which is communist (being ‘international’) and during a holiday impoverished time of year, late March.
Wait, so to celebrate European genocide of Native Americans we don’t get mail today?
This country confuses me.
@Arclite: Heh, that would backfire here. I live a mile from Blizzard HQ and I can always tell when launch day is coming up because my friends vanish (a lot of them work there) and traffic gets strange as they work all hours and then flood into the office when the switches actually get flipped.
As far as I can tell, Columbus Day is just an excuse for the state of California to not pay my wife’s business for services rendered to children with autism. Because, you know, cognitive disabilities take a fucking day off.
Well, the natives of this hemisphere might very well not be getting mail due to some Aztec holiday celebrating the enslavement and genocide at their hands (but not the smallpox) had the Europeans not shown up.
Well, obviously they take the weekends off.
Well, this Italian-American doesn’t give a flying crap about Columbus Day. I’ve always considered St. Joseph’s Day (March 19) a much better occasion for celebrating all things Italian.
And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone north of the border. This day always starts the slippery slope into the holidays for me…
@Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther: Carl Grapentine included that recording in his Columbus Day segment this morning on WFMT. Great stuff.
@KJinGA: I’d be all for that. The people in my neighborhood have a ball with Halloween. The kids run around on sugar buzzes, the parents have parties on their porches and in their driveways, and everyone gets to bed too late. Always having it on a Saturday would be ideal.
I’d like to replace it with “Sharia Law Day”.. one day we follow Sharia! Just think how awesome that would be!
We celebrate Columbus day here at Cornell. It is called “Fall Break”.
Columbus day always reminds me of the various hogwash I was taught about him in elementary school. Such as…
Columbus discovered the New World
Prior to Columbus, everyone thought the world was flat
It’s a medium-big deal in New England, since it is the height of leaf-peeping season there.
It’s not an official holiday, but a lot of people take a long weekend and cause traffic jams on I93.
@socraticsilence: the Universities in South Dakota are — but then we celebrate Native American Day not Columbus day and have for the last 20 years. George Mickelson was one of the few Republican lawmakers I have any respect for. Too bad he died in a plane crash.
@Poopyman: or a Catalan
licensed to kill time
We could all whip out our jihadi knives and start going all Benihana on that ol’ salami of freedom!
All I know is that in Tony Soprano’s house Columbus is a national hero. And Gary Cooper was gay?
Out here it’s called Discoverers’ Day in recognition of James Cook. The Native Hawai’ian population isn’t pleased with it.
Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther
@Ash Can: All I have to hear is “Coh-LUM-bus Day,” or “Rumblerumblerumble, mutinymutinymutiny,” and I start cracking up.
I am just thankful that we do not celebrate Ronald Reagan’s birthday or his inauguration.
Agreed re Columbus Day.
Surprisingly, federal government only has 10 holidays, and Lincoln’s birthday is no longer one of them. (Well, news to me.)
Columbus is one of the most influential men in human history. You can exam it from any angle you want to – an era of brave explorers going into uncharted (for them anyway) territory or the whole sale destruction of indigenous populations – but in the end you can’t deny Columbus attempt to find a western route to India forever transformed the world.
Taking day off for Columbus makes some sense, but we should also have days off for other ground breakers.
I’d prefer to add a day off for some scientist or inventor, like say a Thomas Edison Day or Albert Michelson Day, to remember the fact you can be a brilliant brilliant man and still goof-up (see his experiment to determine the speed of light), if people decide to drop Columbus day.
Great idea, about combining Veteran’s Day with election day.
And make it election weekend. That would really give the Republicans a fright.
Berkeley, California (among others?) celebrates Indigenous People’s Day today as a replacement for Columbus Day. They’ve been doing it for years. The Saturday before Indigenous People’s Day a pow-wow and fair is held in the Civic Center park celebrating indigenous culture.
The day itself is marked by closures of city buildings, libraries, schools and etc.
I knew about Columbus Day, because my husband is a high school teacher and they get the day off around here.
Though personally, since I do have some American Indian blood (very very very diluted, but even so), I think it’s a travesty to even pretend to celebrate this leader of butchers. It’s too bad that my husband is a math teacher; that makes telling the truth about this unfairly celebrated asshole difficult to work into the curriculum.
Dear Mr. President:
There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three. I am not a crackpot.
Uncle Clarence Thomas
Dayam — I want a piece of that pie!
On the other hand, those are stronger than steel. I wonder if that’s wise…
I think you’ve got to put Columbus’ expedition into context. Europe was being vast sums by the Ottomans for the trade routes to the Far East. The Portugese had already found a way to the Indian Ocean, but they weren’t exactly sharing their charts. Ferdinand and Isabella had just unified Spain after long wars to expel the Moors. Renaissance Europeans had just rediscovered Eratosthenes- imperfect calculations of the Earth’s circumference and all- via Ptolemy’s Geographia.
IMO, Columbus didn’t set out with wholesale destruction of indigenous cultures on his mind. The facts are that most of the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere weren’t put to the sword or enslaved- they were inadvertently exposed to smallpox, a virus to which they had no previous exposure, so no immunities (when DeSoto landed in what’s now the southern US, the Mississippian culture was huge, but once they were hit by smallpox carried by sailors traveling with the Conquistador, 90% of those natives were dead within a couple of decades).
So there they were, these Europeans, looking for trading partners, but all the trading partners were dying off. They needed to set up their own plantations and mines, and they needed labor…So they took a cue from their Old World neighbors- the Arabs, Moors and Turks- and started trading with sub-Saharan Africans for slaves. Slaves who’d been exposed to all of those Old World diseases.
I see the whole early process of Old World conquest of the New World as rather less morally reprehensible than most, because the morality of the era was something completely different than what we think today. I’d understand the moralizing against Columbus had the Enlightenment occurred 300 years earlier- but it didn’t.
@Andy K: Your assessments misses the fact Europeans were willing to claim any tract of land for their nation, whether in the New World or with Old World colonialism.
They did not engage the rest of the world as equal trading partners.
@Martin: Nope, we’re a research facility attached to a cancer center, so the education level is too high for wing-nuts to slip through. We have the annoying habit of working in reality and dealing with facts.
Furthermore my boss is a Brit, so mentioning the war is not a good idea… Although if you ever saw the Downfall spoof on peer review, that went through the lab like wildfire.
Which differs from the Hittites, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Germans, Greeks, Indians, Chinese, Romans, Arabs, Mongols, Incans or Aztecs how?
History as we know it is nothing but a series of land grabs, which are little more than functions of the late-Neolithic Agricultural Revolution.
I read someplace that European cod fishermen were probably the first modern Europeans to visit the North America. They camped around northern Newfoundland and Quebec, and did primitive fish processing on shore.
They did not give a rats ass about finding a new continent, and the crews and owners did not reveal the mysterious shores they camped on to avoid giving away the trade secrets that allowed them to come back to Europe and beat their competitors who had to start processing their catch in Europe.
Cod Fisherman’s Day! Capitalism!
Let’s replace Columbus Day with Cod Fisherman’s Day.
My husband and I are both Feds and we dislike this holiday. The gov’t can just as easily rescind the 8 hours of leave for this day and give it to us for the day after Thanksgiving.
Or, as my husband would prefer, create a Leif Ericksson Day.
Yeah, Scandanavians who got there via Greenland. Once Greenland iced over, they had no place to stop and provision. Once the short-lived Greenland colonies died out, the routes to North America died with them.
That’s a holiday in my world. Fuck anyone else.
Really? What are rentals like over there? I’m in consideration for a posting, as it were.
@jl: Basque whalers too
And if Italian-Americans get to have a Federal holiday, so should the Native Americans. Let’s combine them and spare the hassle.
ETA: Oh, wait. That’d be logical.
Dear Uncle Barry,
I just realized that it’s a monday and some of us are not working (it’s mostly those union nut jobs). Can you do something about that, because I forget why some of us are not working, and it bugs me.
i had the unique and distinct pleasure of living in an italian-american urban neighborhood for a couple of years when i was “finding myself” after my marriage….
columbus day is real, there are parades, its like st patrick’s day without the easy and obvious tie-ins to the beer and whisky corporate ad fueled socially mandatory drunk fest…or at least what that might be without the socially mandatory black out drinking of specially priced intoxicants…
i can see how people without italian heritage, people who aren’t into being hyphenated-americans, or people who haven’t been in a place where italian-american subculture is noticeably and obviously dominate could think of columbus day as useless…
i’ve had fun on columbus day, not as much as dingus day in a polish bar, but that is another story.
There are lots of federal holidays. However, not all federal holidays mean federal workers don’t work.
IIRC, I believe it’s currently 10 days a year of ‘federal government shuts down’ type holidays.
ay yo yo, you come out too far in an italian neighborhood, you’ll be the mary in the front yard, without the half-tub.
/sorry, so sorry, to all my italian friends and people i have never met, but you know its true.
I am currently in Austria, and some Canadian friends kindly informed me it was Columbus Day… So what do we do? Take a shot of cheap vodka of course. Because, honestly I don’t know how else to celebrate Columbus Day in Europe… or celebrate it at all. Rather pointless, I agree.
Chris Rock used to do a bit about Arizona not celebrating MLK day. “How racist do you have to be to not want a day off? I wouldn’t normally celebrate KKK day, but give me the day off, and I’ll be all for it.”
Can we be like the Orange marchers in Ireland who celebrate previous victories over the catholics by marching in their neighborhoods.
I want to celebrate the victory over treason (1861-present) by burning traitor flags.
And maybe a holiday of Appomattox Day!
I seriously had to deposit some money (to cover a check) and was SHOCKEd to see the bank closed. For Columbus Day.