Dear America, Columbus Was A Genocidal Maniac Not An Icon

Several cities in the U.S. have renamed Columbus Day "Indigenous People's Day." Now, we're just waiting for the federal government and retailers to catch on.

An airplane flies past a statue of Christopher Columbus in central Madrid

As another October is upon us, the debate continues in the United States about whether to continue recognizing Christopher Columbus as the “discoverer” of America or be honest with ourselves about his unheroic legacy as a mass murderer.  

Many cities — starting with Berkeley, California, way back in 1992 — have renamed Columbus Day "Indigenous Peoples Day" to honor the Native Americans whose home was invaded as they were killed during Columbus’ journey.

Seattle and Minneapolis followed suit and changed the name in 2014. Lawrence, Kansas, and Portland, Oregon, joined the pack in 2015.

"Learning about the history of Columbus and transforming this day into a celebration of indigenous people and a celebration of social justice ... allows us to make a connection between this painful history and the ongoing marginalization, discrimination, and poverty that indigenous communities face to this day," Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant said after the city voted to change the day's name back in 2014.

The exploitation of Native Americans' suffering extends beyond the government’s choice to continue dedicating a day to Columbus.

Retail stores also continue to take full advantage of the ability to advertise “Columbus Day Sales” leading up to the day — masking the horrific historical event as a good reason to go out and spend money.  

Of course, we know that in the land of consumerism, any holiday that helps promote sales and bring in business is fair game, even if it means offending a minority community and glorifying genocide just to sell clothes and shoes. 

Is "Indigenous Peoples Day" not catchy enough to slap on a sales pitch?

To add insult to injury, the bulk of these sales end on Columbus Day. Even the blissfully ignorant shopaholics who don't care about what Columbus Day really celebrates can't even receive discounts on the true day of "celebration." 

So, remind us again what good it does for anyone to recognize Columbus Day? 

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Eduardo Munoz

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