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Columbus Day Controversy: Why Many Refuse To Celebrate Questionable Holiday

Mon, October 12, 2015 10:34am EDT by 1 Comment

Columbus Day is here again, however, many refuse to celebrate, as the land which Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ was actually inhabited long before he ever ‘sailed the ocean blue.’ Because of this, observance of the day has become quite controversial.

Columbus Day honors the day that Spanish explorer, Christopher Columbus, first arrived to the Americas, on Oct. 12, 1492. For many though, the holiday, which was established in 1892, is no holiday at all, and is actually very offensive in its mere existence. Columbus was not the first to come across what he referred to as “the New World” (which included South America and Jamaica). Actually, the areas were occupied by indigenous people, and Columbus is said to have treated them cruelly, causing many in the U.S. and around the world to stringently dismiss the day as celebratory.

If you do not have the day off from work or school today, you are not alone. Though it is a federal holiday, each year, more and more individuals and establishments refuse to celebrate Columbus Day. In fact, Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon and South Dakota do not recognize the day at all, while others mark the occasion as “Indigenous Peoples Day.”

There are several reasons as to why many are angered at the celebration of Columbus Day. For starters, Columbus was dead wrong about the geography of his conquests. Specifically, he arrived in what is known today as the Bahamas, refusing to believe it was not part of East Asia (despite the fact that none of the native people understood Eastern language, and there was agriculture that was not known in the East).

More than Columbus’ ignorance of his whereabouts, though, his celebration is refuted due to the cruelty with which he treated the inhabitants of the land. He and the other Europeans enslaved many of the West Indians, controlling the population with violent oppression. Additionally, they forced Christianity upon the natives, and brought foreign diseases which killed many, causing utter devastation.

There is positivity in the day’s origin, though. President Benjamin Harris created the holiday as a way to bring the country together, calling for Americans to use the day off to reflect on the achievements of the nation in the time since Columbus arrived.

What is your take on Columbus Day, HollywoodLifers? Should we celebrate the day, or is it an offensive notion?

— Casey Mink