Imagine there was a day, every year, a federally recognized holiday that celebrated a mass murderer. He killed thousands of people he didn't even know what to call because he stumbled on their land by accident, thinking it was somewhere else. Instead of exploring the area out of pure curiosity and asking the native people of the land what their traditions and customs were, he decided to exploit them physically and sexually, using them for "gold, glory, and God."
Maybe he didn't realize that there was going to be a whole day set aside to commemorate him, but I'm sure he knew what he was doing was completely immoral and wrong even if it was for "God." And that alone should disqualify him from being remembered as a hero.
If you paid attention in history, you may have realized that this is a reality, his name is Christopher Columbus, and that day, Columbus Day is marked on our calendars every third Monday of October.
I can't recall if I've ever gotten the day off from school to commemorate Columbus Day, but if I did it shouldn't have been to celebrate this man and what he did. Even as a child, I didn't really see the point of Columbus Day. I first learned the truth about him when my mom told me that he didn't actually "discover" America, the area that he was actually in was the Caribbean islands, and the "Indians" he conquered were most likely indigenous Bahamian peoples. The Europeans believed that it was their Christian duty to civilize the "savage" native people while taking their precious resources, and spreading the European ideology and way of life to their civilization as well.
In some cases, they tried to assimilate the natives, trying to turn them European in a sense. But for the most part, before Bartholomew De Las Casas wrote to the king and queen of Spain saying that it's wrong to be using the "meek" native people as slaves (but that they should use Africans instead), explorers would come to the "New World," eradicate any form of life there, take the resources and build their own community, thus spreading Europe globally. At the end of the day, that was their mission, whether one chooses to believe it or not.
In recent times, people have finally been realizing the horrible atrocities that this man has done and some states now recognize it as "Indigenous peoples day." I'm not sure exactly when Columbus Day began, but we know enough now as a society to stop celebrating a mass murderer. But that still doesn't stop some people from thinking that despite his atrocities to an entire civilization of people, that he should be celebrated.
For the few states who have recognized the day as Indigenous Peoples day and for those states I say, good on you. However, it is still a completely foreign or not even discussed subject in the majority of the country. Columbus's legacy is still being taught in schools as if he still is the great explorer that we learned him to be. He's not only taught here as a part of the history of the Americas but even in post-colonial countries as well.
All of this is to say that Columbus Day to me, doesn't and shouldn't exist. He not only didn't even actually discover what he believed to be America but as a result of his arrival, diseases killed the native people, as did the hard labor he and other explorers subjected them to.
Maybe I am biased in my analysis of this event. However, numbers and facts don't lie and they're there and reflected on how the course of history shaped up after this encounter. Keep this in mind when you look at your calendar and see that Columbus Day is still celebrated and ask yourself, would you celebrate the mass murder of a civilization of native people? Or would you want to commemorate the native people instead? You decide. But as a country who prides itself on the diversity of our nation, it's only just to give the people who helped cultivate this land, one day to remember them.