Columbus Day: Will An Old Diversity Pander Have To Yield To A New One?
By Barton Cockey
October 10, 2018
The current leftist assault on Columbus Day, as James Fulford has noted, is part of a more general campaign against white males and European civilization in general. Ironically, the federal holiday is an ethnic pander, a political payoff of relatively recent origin.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the U.S. Congress established the holiday on April 12, 1934 as a result of lobbying by an Italian immigrant. Generoso Pope (born Generoso Papa in Arpaise, Benvenuto, Italy on April 1, 1891) was a self-made multi-millionaire and an intimate of the Tammany Hall political machine in New York City. Having done conspicuous service to FDR in securing the Italian vote, Pope had considerable influence with the president. As is often the case with immigrants, he lobbied on behalf of his native land. An admirer of Mussolini, he helped to dissuade the president from intervening after the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. Each year, Pope organized a Columbus Day parade in New York; and in 1934, he used his influence with FDR to make October 12 a national holiday. (The Knights of Columbus also lobbied for the holiday, while the anticatholic Ku Klux Klan opposed it.)
Of course, every schoolchild knew about the Admiral of the Ocean Sea, and Americans flocked to the 1892 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. But the famous navigator was always just a minor character in our national mythology, a notch above Leif the Lucky and a notch below our own Captain John Smith. It took mass immigration from Italy to put Columbus on the level of George Washington, with banks, schools, and post offices shutting down across the land in his honor. It is an index of the power of ethnic pandering that the name of the old Italian adventurer has outlasted that of Washington himself on the holiday roster. Both Washington and Lincoln got dumped into the blender to emerge as ‘Presidents’ Day” to make room for Martin Luther King Day, another sop to a racial voting bloc.
The push to replace Columbus with a nameless, faceless Indigenous Person is classic cultural Marxism. Just as the mayor of Pittsburgh wants to put up a Woman of Color (pick one, any one) following the removal of a statue of Stephen Foster, the cultural vandals clamoring for the end of Columbus Day are proposing an “Indigenous Peoples Day” instead. What distinguishes this proposal from past efforts to honor indigenous Americans (think of the Indian Head Cent and the Buffalo Nickel or any of the countless sculptures and historic markers) is that this effort is part of the cultural holocaust—the intentional elimination of white people and all celebratory commemorations of them and the civilization they created. The goodwhites behind this effort don’t love Indians so much as they loathe white people.
One of the striking attributes of Americans has been their admiration for the people they displaced. Thomas Jefferson, in Notes on the State of Virginia, wrote:
“I may challenge the whole orations of Demosthenes and Cicero,
and of many more prominent orators, if Europe has furnished any
more eminent, to produce a single passage, superior to the speech
of Logan, a Mingo chief, to Lord Dunmore when Governor of this State.”
James Fenimore Cooper was fascinated by the red man and recorded as much Indian lore as he could find. His literary efforts to depict the Noble Savage are not to the liking of our haughty arbiters of taste and decorum. The very idea that human nature could admit a mixture of nobility and savagery is simply inadmissible. In the moral idiocy of the left, you can be one or the other, not both. Whites are savages; non-whites are noble; and that’s that. People knew better when there were real, live Indians in the neighborhood.
A few miles from where I am writing this article, in the summer of 1777, General Burgoyne, with his British and German troops and his Indian auxiliaries were making their way toward Saratoga. Burgoyne had circulated a notice promising the colonials that they would be safe as long as they did not oppose him. The Allen family, all Tories, took him at his word and were blithely bringing in the harvest. John Allen had borrowed three slaves from his father-in-law to help with the work. Watching them from the woods were some Indians, whose identity remains a matter of speculation. When the family and the slaves had gone into the house to eat, the Indians attacked, killingand mutilating John Allen, his wife Eva Kilmer Allen, her sister Catherine Kilmer, the Allens’ daughters Eva and Elizabeth, their baby son John, and the three slaves Tom, Sarah, and one whose name is lost to memory. According to the research of Theodore Corbett, the braves scalped the Allens and took the lips off the Negroes.
Of course, such awkward incidents could have been avoided if only the indigenous Americans had maintained stricter immigration policies. Instead, they showed the same vacillation between friendliness and violence as the white colonists. A close reading of the history of the early interactions between the settlers and the natives should be enough to convince even the most ardent multiculturalist that diversity is a source of conflict, not comity. For example, the Pilgrims ended up in a series of heartbreakingly stupid, bloody fights with the local tribes, mainly because the second generation of colonists forgot how much gratitude they owed to the Indians for their fathers’ survival (an early case of absimilation?).
Personally, I don’t care whether or not we have an official government holiday for Cristoforo Colombo, but the sad fact is that as many observers have remarked, politics degenerates to tribalism in multicultural societies. And as a result, intertribal good will and cooperation tend to yield to push and shove, even in the absence of sanctimonious advocates of “inclusion” exclusively tearing down one tribe’s monuments. I’d like to honor the red man. Let’s take Lincoln off the penny and put back the Indian. And put Lady Liberty back on the dime. Let’s make a law that nobody living after 1850 can appear on our currency or have a national holiday named after him. And bring back the celebration of George Washington’s birthday. Think it can’t be done? No? Oh well, you’re probably right.