25 September 2009

Philly's Columbus Day parade canceled - for the wrong reason

Columbus Day is celebrated widely here in Philadelphia, from South Philly's Italian-American neighborhoods to their suburban counterparts throughout the metro area.

But this year, Philly's annual Columbus Day parade has been canceled due to a lack of funds.

But there are better reasons not to celebrate Columbus Day, regardless of funding issues.

What we learned about Columbus in school was not the whole truth. In some cases, it wasn't the truth at all.

First of all, Columbus did not originate the theory that the earth is round. Such had been known since ancient times.

Columbus also did not discover America. Leif Ericson and his Norsemen had built a settlement in what is now the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador some 500 years before Columbus wandered into the West Indies.

And, once Columbus got here, he enslaved the Native Americans and forced them to convert to Christianity, while helping himself to the new world's gold and other precious resources.

In other words, it seems that he paved the way for the better-known genocide and subjugation of Native Americans that took place on the North American mainland in later centuries.

Is this the kind of thing we should be celebrating?

Not me.

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