Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Floating a holiday

When is Columbus Day not Columbus Day? When it runs afoul of students at a prestigious New England university.

That's right, folks. An Ivy League school has recently decided that Columbus Day should no longer be observed. Well, maybe that's not quite right. It's still being observed, it just isn't being called Columbus Day by the university anymore. It's now just another "Fall Weekend".

We totally get the moral indignation. Heck, we've sort of built this entire blog around indignation, so we're totally on the same page. But to stop referring to the day as Columbus Day just seems so, well, strange. Sure, we can get behind the concept that you aren't happy with his treatment of the indigenous people of the continent. We can even agree with the potential anger over his claims that he discovered the New Land, despite piles of evidence to the contrary.

But how many people that have holidays named after them have similar stories? How many were perfect angels, never doing wrong? Columbus may not have been the best person, but there's no denying that he was able to accomplish something that few had even dared to try before. Sure, it would have been nice if, instead of seeing the native people as barbarians he had invited them to his table as equals, but, well, given the Euro-centric worldview at the time, it's no surprise that he made the choices he made.

What's next? Is Independence Day going to be rechristened "Summer Weekend"?

And what's wrong with the term "Autumn", anyway?

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