Who’s There for Columbus?

We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”  -Geert Wilders, a candidate for Dutch prime minister.

When Wilders’s statement was echoed by an American congressman, it was roundly condemned across the political spectrum as racist, nativist, and the usual bandwagon labels.

But how off-base is this statement? Aren’t Native Americans saying the same thing about Euro-Americans ruining their earthly paradise?  African Americans claim we ruined Africa with colonization.  If you tally up all the complaints, Euro-Caucasians made worse everything they touched, from an ideal Confucian society in China to the godly Islamic world.  Yet no one will allow us to question the undermining of our Western legacy.

Those victims of Euro-Caucasian exploitation now want to knock Christopher Columbus off his 70-foot pedestal in Manhattan and everywhere else this navigator is honored. And, it’s not just ‘someone else’s babies’ who are leading this vendetta.  Many of our own babies – cowardly and ignorant – have run for the hills as this attack on our magnificent legacy spreads.  New York’s Mayor Bill Wilhelm (aka DeBlasio) eggs on the revisionists by calling for a commission to judge the political correctness of every statue and memorial within city limits.  Governor Andrew Cuomo, who just handily renamed a bridge after his late father Mario – a bridge Mario Cuomo had absolutely nothing to do with – has been MIA from the Columbus controversy, whereas he injects himself into every other New York City debate.

It is sad, indeed, when our own babies desert us. Has anyone heard from Italian American celebrities on this issue?  How about our captains of industry?  And what about our cultural academics?  Can we expect African American, Hispanic, Muslim, or Asian kids to carry on our Western legacy while our own paesani couldn’t care less about it?

The Columbus Citizens Foundation took out a full page ad in the New York Times recently and held a press conference at City Hall to preempt any removal of the nation’s most famous Columbus monument.  They have skin in this game: the CCF restored the monument in 1992 and counts on the Manhattan Columbus Day Parade for income and membership.  But what of NIAF, the National Italian American Foundation, which claims to be “our voice in Washington” and holds galas in Manhattan?  A couple of years ago they held a spirited forum on Columbus which got out of hand.  CEO John Viola’s head spun so badly that he washed his hands of Columbus stating that the holiday could only be about Italian culture not the explorer – a fine example of commitment from our Gen X leadership.  Sadly, the Italian community of 1892 – the one that created the monument and Columbus Circle – had more pride, initiative, and courage than anything we see today in our 2017 ‘community.’

This is a zero-sum game.  The forces of political correctness will not offer us a ban on Mafia movies for Columbus’s head.  Our babies will be guaranteed Al Capone and John Gotti but not the man who joined two worlds.  Columbus has been vilified to such an extent, and our community is so ignorant of the real history, that once gone he will just another evil Italian.

What if Columbus was proved to be Jewish, which used to be an annual claim? Would revisionists back off at the thought of being accused of anti-Semitism?  I wonder.  Not surprisingly, this year there have been no second dibs on Columbus – not from Jews, Poles, Catalans, Greeks, or others.  He may now be too much baggage for other ethnic groups.

Where will this frenzy of upheaval end? Diversity may be a wonderful thing in theory but when the population shifts it becomes an invasive game.  New York City and Los Angeles are examples of cities now populated by minorities that are challenging the Western version of history.  Los Angeles just renamed Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples Day.  Now it’s New York’s turn.

No matter that Columbus Day is a federal holiday, local governments and schools are essentially switching names to suit their election base.  Tradition no longer has any meaning.  Everything is on the table.

Their babies will, indeed, paint the world in their own colors.  Our babies will be none the wiser.   -JLM

4 thoughts on “Who’s There for Columbus?”

  1. My associates have taken an active role in the opposition to the removal of the Italo Balbo statue in Chicago and as a member of the Baltimore Sons of Italy Lodge, we have all condemned the recent anarchist desecration of the Columbus state in Columbus Piazza, Little Italy, Baltimore. I am only 22 years old and the Italic Institute has taught me more about my Italian heritage than any other organization alone. I learned the true significance behind Columbus Day; the introduction of western civilization to this part of the world. There is no legacy I would be more honored to defend in any way I can. For the youth, I think it starts with young ones like ourselves passing this knowledge onto others our age, so we can initiate a revival of interest in our culture. We must continue to fight.

  2. If the flagship Columbus statue in New York City is removed it will almost certainly encourage the same thing in cities across the country, as well as the inevitable protests against Columbus Day parades. (Recall how Columbus Day marchers in Denver were called “mafia scum” by protestors not so long ago.) Unity, cohesiveness and a common purpose among the Italian-American organizations and academics is our only hope on this issue. The Italic Institute brochure on Columbus should be a “must read” for all of the above.


  3. I, for one, am grateful when some of our Italian American “babies” keep their mouths shut amidst this controversy. Some of the comments made by local Italian American politicians in NYC in “defense” of Columbus revealed such a profundity of historical ignorance that they only scored points for the opposition. Similarly, Italian Americans have rushed to the defense of Columbus on Facebook by posting memes of Tony Soprano’s eulogy to the explorer as heard in an episode of the infamous HBO series, or photos of tough-looking Mob street crews warning the opposition to back off Columbus …or else. The Italian American community has shown itself to be intellectually incapable and too historically illiterate to mount a competent defense of Columbus. That task should be left to someone else.

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