Columbus, Ohio isn't down with Columbus Day


Originally published at:


What I find interesting about Christopher Columbus:

“Although an abundance of artwork involving Christopher Columbus exists, no authentic contemporary portrait has been found. James W. Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, believes the various posthumous portraits have no historical value.”


And not only that, BOTH the post office AND my bank were closed today. Damn you, Cristobal Colon!


My great (never to be realized) pipe dream is that Columbus Day be phased out in favor of a holiday on election day.

Failing that my second (similarly impossible) dream would be to poll the U.S. indigenous communities to see what they’d prefer done with the day.

I can’t imagine either of these actually happening, but man would it bring me joy if either came to pass.


What? I almost missed Columbo Day!



Here in Canada, it’s Thanksgiving, not fully connected to the US event. There may be a small parade over there by Italians, but we never know about it until a brief mention on the news.

If you go past the school song about Columbus, you start to wonder why he’s prominent. He never set foot in North America, maybe not even the continent further South. He had nothing to do with what became “America”. Washington Irving wrote a book about Columbus, complete with the idea that in his day people thought the world flat. I thought that might have popularized him. Or maybe it was Italian Americans, wanting some recognition, even if Columbus had no connection with the birth of the nation.

But a few years ago, Smithsonian magazine had a story about after the Revolution, there was a desire to put distance from Britain, so all the naming after Columbus. It made sense at the time, there has to be a reason why he looms larger in US history than early British colonists.

The Columbia River should change its name, even though I have no idea what the ancestors called it.


I’m in Columbus almost weekly, and this is very surprising. It doesn’t seem terribly progressive, from where I sit.


Many peoples lived in the Columbia River watershed, so it would be hard to pin down a single name for the great river. Here’s the site of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Council with some cool info on the people and the river.

From Wikipedia:

The Chinook tribe, which is not federally recognized, who live near the lower Columbia River, call it Wimahl in the Chinookan language



Why? They can just refer to it as * Columbia ( Star Trek ), a starship in the series Star Trek: Enterprise


Finally, some news from the home state, that’s not embarrassing;


Instead, the city’s government has opted to throw the days off that are typically allotted to the holiday at something far more important: honoring the United States’ veterans.

Do we really need a third national holiday honoring veterans? Maybe we could fix the VA instead?


It’s very progressive, if you mean gentrification, bumper sticker politics, and middle class values.

edit: I was looking for a documentary, Flag Wars, about gentrification in Columbus, but it appears that whoever holds the rights is pretty aggressive about enforcement. The wikipedia synopsis paints the picture though:

The story begins with Nina, a lesbian real estate agent who lives and works in the neighborhood and is at the center of the changes taking place. The changes include having areas of the neighborhood designated a Historic District (creating restrictive housing codes), an increase in code enforcement complaints, and efforts to reduce low-income housing in the community.
Linda suffers from cirrhosis of the liver and lives on disability insurance. She does not address the housing and zoning violations and her limited resources prevent her from making repairs to her home.
Baba, a Yoruba priest and plumber, is the founder of the community gallery in the neighborhood, which occupies the bottom two floors of his three-story house. The name and address sign that he hangs above his porch is now in violation of Historic Code because it is carved in an African-relief style.

Columbus is like that but on a bigger scale.


City offices will close instead on Veterans Day, which falls on Nov. 12 this year.

Veteran’s Day is always on the 11th. You can take the day off on another day (the 11th is a Sunday this year), but it’s already a national holiday – or do they somehow not celebrate it in Columbus?


Correction, he reached what would become Central America, which is technically part of North America, and probably South America. But as far as he was concerned it was part of Asia. Along with all his other barbarism, Columbus was pretty obtuse.

In fact, Columbus refused to acknowledge the possibility that the “West Indies” were nowhere near Asia, going so far as to insist the world was pear-shaped to accommodate the obvious discrepancies a spherical globe implied. Amerigo Vespucci, who was arguably the main architect of Spain’s blood-soaked age of conquistadors, at least realized they were “new” landmasses.


Without commenting on why and if we should have a holiday in the US, he is prominent for a very important reason. Regardless of the fact that he was wrong about a lot of things (as has been pointed out). His “discovery” of the Western Hemisphere for Europeans sent all of world history onto a completely different direction. History was completely, massively changed by his actions.


Well, good maybe.
I’m all for it if that is actually what indigenous people by and large want.

But I’d swear I’d read complaints about Native American Heritage Day being on Black Friday, and issues surrounding the little attention it’s given.

So, had I my way, any other celebrations of indigenous people would be done with forethought and take the input of the people involved heavily into account before being instituted, rather than being just a quick name change.


As was it by Hitler and Stalin. IJS.


Jesus dude, did I say he was a hero?

In the rush to push him to the side, many people are missing the broader significance of what he did. Now, in fairness, if his ships sank in the Atlantic before reaching the Western Hemisphere, it would’ve been the next guy we’d be talking about. But that doesn’t change the fact that he did something that changed the direction of history, in good, bad, great, and terrible ways, for the entire planet in ways more consequential than almost any other person, ever.

Comparing him to Hitler or Stalin misses the mark completely.


I didn’t say you said he was. I agree with you that he was a prominent historical figure. I was observing that he was also one of history’s monsters. I didn’t say you needed to agree with me.

I politely disagree with you.