Belfast was the first town in Maine to declare what was formerly known as Columbus Day to instead be the friendlier and more positive Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This happened before the recent atrocity in Charlottesville and before the impassioned arguments for and against Confederate monuments. This is not a part of some grand conspiracy to make America politically correct. I do believe they can be viewed as part of the same trend, though: we are beginning to recognize the idiocy in glorifying the losers.
Because yeah, those Confederate officers were losers, any way you look at it. They lost the war. They fought a losing battle for a horrible cause. You want to tell me about states’ rights? Please allow this military historian to enlighten you: the war started because the southern states wanted the federal government to force abolitionist states to return escaped slaves to their slaveowners. States’ rights are only righteous when they conveniently fit your financial goals, obviously.
So, yes, I teach my kids that the Civil War was about slavery, and that monuments to their generals are a sad attempt to glorify something that was never in fact glorious. You know what else I teach them? That Columbus and “his” day can be viewed the same way.
That’s right, I called Columbus a loser, just like those Confederate generals so many people are wetting their pants about. Why? Because the dude was not even the first gringo to set foot on the North American continent, much less the discoverer of a “new world.” This world had its own complex culture, and contrary to what you may have learned in school, they weren’t wiped out by the superior knowledge and weapons of the Europeans. No, the Europeans were absolutely filthy with disease that they very kindly spread. If we can argue Columbus had superior anything, it would be immunities that have to do with cultures living through the Black Plague.
When I discovered that there is a movement in Maine to at least have Columbus share the celebration with Indigenous peoples, including in the name, I was heartened. Because it’s really stupid that we celebrate a guy who caused so much innocent death, all in the name of money…no matter how appropriate to our current culture that particular choice may seem.
So how, some want to know, can I explain to my children that we decided it’s not Columbus Day anymore? It’s much easier than explaining to them why we’ve celebrated a loser and a perpetrator of genocide. Why is it easier for some people to have said, gee kids, it’s time for us to celebrate Genocide Day? Because that’s what it is. So, go Maine. Thank you, blessed state, for working toward me not having to explain why making America great again involves murder, cultural erasure, kidnapping, and slavery. Keep Columbus and the Confederacy in the history books. Keep them out of the government – unless we’re okay with making America a loser again.