I would like to announce that New York County Politics will be taking the day off this Monday, in honor of Columbus Day.
It’s no secret that the truth about Christopher Columbus is far different from what we learned in elementary school. For one thing, he never proved the earth was round; in fact, he couldn’t have, because it was already common knowledge in his day. More importantly, when he arrived in the New World, his treatment of the native Taino people was absolutely horrific. Within 60 years of his arrival, the native population of Hispaniola had gone from a quarter million to only a few hundred.
With that being said, the fictionalized account of Columbus’s expedition proved to be quite beneficial for Italian-Americans. Upon arriving in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, Italian immigrants faced rampant prejudice and discrimination. But the notion that an Italian man discovered America helped them combat that prejudice and argue that they truly belonged here.
We here at NYCP view Columbus Day not as a celebration of Columbus himself, but as a celebration of Italian-Americans and as a reassurance that they do, in fact, belong here.
NYCP will resume its normal schedule on Tuesday, Oct. 13.