Commentary

Columbus Day or Indigenous People's Day?

By Bill Donohue | October 7, 2021 | 10:24am EDT
Pictured is the statue of Christopher Columbus at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Pictured is the statue of Christopher Columbus at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

In 2019, the National Education Association (NEA) announced that it "believes that the history of colonization needs to be recognized and acknowledged in every state." To that end, it said "the name of the current holiday known as 'Columbus Day' should be renamed and recognized as 'Indigenous Peoples' Day.'" Its position remains unchanged.

The NEA was only partially successful. Some cities and states have adopted its stance, but many others have not.

On Monday, some schools will be closed in observance of Columbus Day; some will be closed in observance of Indigenous Peoples' Day; some will be closed in honor of both days; others will recognize neither day and will remain open. Click here to see the breakdown.

This is not a healthy situation. A country that cannot agree on whom to honor is in trouble. Worse, a country whose public officials take no action against those who destroy statues on public land of those who have made significant contributions to American society are sending the wrong message. When a nation's historically renowned figures become part of our throw-away culture, it does not bode well for instilling patriotism in young people.

Judging past historical figures through today's lens will likely mean that some of those in favor of excising tributes to legendary persons will themselves be erased from history. So be it.

We at the Catholic League are taking off Monday, in honor of Christopher Columbus. Sorry NEA, you carry no weight with us. 

Bill Donohue is president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of nine books and many articles.

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