Columbus Day started as a response to ethnic bigotry. Don’t cancel the day, remember the reason it began

Darrell Todd Maurina
4 min readOct 12, 2022

Sick of “woke” politics? Take a stand for Columbus Day by sharing this meme from the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, and consider making a donation to the Commission for Social Justice of the OSIA. #PreserveColumbusDay

Too many Americans don’t know their history because they were never taught their history, or because they don’t care. Columbus Day came about after a nightmare lynching in New Orleans in 1890, shortly before the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in 1492. The targets of the lynching? Italians who were considered dangerous foreigners by the locals in New Orleans.

The uproar was so severe that the Italian government got involved, warning its citizens that America was a dangerous place and they should consider emigrating elsewhere rather than America. To avoid losing a major source of immigrant labor, President Benjamin Harrison in 1892 “proclaimed a nationwide celebration of ‘Discovery Day,’ recognizing Columbus as ‘the pioneer of progress and enlightenment.’ Eventually, the nations mended their relationship and the U.S. paid $25,000 in reparations.” That’s quoting National Geographic, which can’t be accused of anti-liberal or pro-conservative bias.

Officially proclaiming Columbus Day on the national level, and later in many states, was a way of showing the United States, despite significant anti-Italian discrimination by many individuals, wasn’t officially opposed to Italians.

I have zero problem with Native Americans or the concept of a “Native American Heritage Day.” It’s fine for Native Americans to take pride in their heritage, and to remind the American government of how often we’ve broken our treaties with many Native American tribes.

I’m quite aware that Columbus’ behavior five centuries ago doesn’t meet modern standards. But the warfare of many of the Native Americans that Columbus and his successors conquered didn’t meet those standards either, and was arguably far worse. Say what you will about the conquistadores, but they weren’t practicing Aztec human sacrificial rituals.

We live in a world where men who were once icons of progressivism — Thomas Jefferson, for example — have had…