How Columbus earned a statue
Mineola, L.I.: Not content with likening Christopher Columbus to the vile Harvey Weinstein, Michael Henry Adams doubles down on intolerance (“Treat Columbus like Weinstein,” Op-Ed, Dec. 15): “As discredited now as Weinstein, how is Columbus, any more than Lucky Luciano, an Italian hero to look up to? Instead, how does Sinatra Circle sound?”
Though Ol’ Blue Eyes is revered by millions, Sinatra did not alter the destiny of humankind. The ancestral roots of Italo-Americans can be traced to the land John Milton hailed as “the seat of civilization.” And Cristoforo Colombo was a product of the same Italian Renaissance that forged modernity. Indeed, as Paolo Emilio Taviani, author of “Columbus: The Great Adventure,” declared: “The Columbian discovery was of greater magnitude than any other discovery or invention in human history.”
Gaetano Russo’s iconic marble statue commemorated the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World. Moreover, inspired by this epochal voyage, Francis Bellamy penned the Pledge of Allegiance on October 12, 1892.
In spewing his revisionist cant, Adams fails to cite the largest mass lynching in U.S. history — the slaughter of 11 innocent Italians in New Orleans in 1891. Eighteen months after the massacre, Italian-American benefactors raised funds to erect a monument honoring the Admiral of the Ocean Sea, as well as the long-suffering scions of Italy. And the inscription on the column upon which the statue rests reads:
“To Christopher Columbus / the Italians resident in America, / scoffed at before, / during the voyage, menaced, / after it, chained, / as generous as oppressed, / to the world he gave a world.” Rosario A. Iaconis
Chairman, the Italic Institute of America