More than 500 years ago, Christopher Columbus’s accidental encounter with the New World was in line with the established era of exploration and discovery ongoing in Europe at the time. His travels helped contribute to European conquest of the Americas and the slaughter of indigenous peoples and nations. And a century later, the first European colonies on the shores of the modern-day United States. Today, some Americans celebrate Columbus Day to commemorate the great Italian who is somewhat incorrectly credited with opening a new chapter in world history and to appreciate his overstated glorification and significance to the Western Hemisphere while others prefer to celebrate Indigenous Peoples day.
When Christopher Columbus and his crew sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María it was in line with a trend of exploration in Europe at the time, looking for alternate routes to Asian markets. For Italian Americans, Christopher Columbus represents a person in history who needs to be evaluated fairly and critically. As a native of Genoa, Columbus inspired early immigrants to carry forth their rich Italian heritage to the New world. Today, the United States benefits from the warmth and generosity of nearly 17 million Italian Americans, whose love of family and country strengthen the fabric of our Nation. For some American communities Columbus remains a legendary figure however to a significant population of America, his atrocities and the era of slaughter of Native Americans, conquest, and slavery that followed are not ideals to be celebrated.
Historians have sought to evaluate and discuss Christopher Columbus’s legacy. These scholars seek to examine what Columbus’s contributions were and also examine his, and that eras, failings. Academics, scholars and historians talk of his motives, accomplishments and transgression with as little bias as possible to promote honest and inclusive discussions of history so that we can best learn from them. Learning from our history is a noble and admirable goal and one we should promote. This is not a political ideology as its adherents are studying historical facts which cannot be changed, much like science, but can develop as new information is discovered. Current political ideology influence is minimized as much as possible by experts in historical research. Scholars work to revise our incorrect views of history, deprive it of any bias or glorification, and mark it as true. Academics seek unbiased factually accurate interpretations of history. We must promote education and studies of our past so that we can apply the lessons we learn to the future of our great nation. We must teach future generations to question interpretations of history and critically examine their lessons with facts and research. This June, I signed an Executive Order to ensure that any person or group destroying or vandalizing a Federal monument, memorial, or statue is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
I have also taken steps to ensure that we change the teaching of our Nation’s history and promote a dangerous precedent of biased Western chauvinism in the education of our children. In July, I signed another Executive Order to build and rebuild monuments to controversial American figures in a National Garden of American Heroes. In September, I announced the creation of the 1776 Commission, which will encourage our educators to teach our children a factually inaccurate version of American history in order to promote political ideas and divisiveness. In addition, last month I signed an Executive Order to root out the teaching of racially inclusive concepts from the Federal workplace, many of which are grounded in the same type of accurate history that is trying to examine Christopher Columbus and his actions and contributions. Together, we must examine our history and encourage this new wave of academic research by standing against those who spread hate and division.
On this Columbus Day, we embrace the same blind faith and incorrect knowledge that led Christopher Columbus to encounter the New World. We inherit that ignorance, along with the legacy of American heroes who blazed the trails, conquered a continent, devastated the wilderness, and built these United States of America.
In commemoration of Christopher Columbus’s historic voyage, the Congress, by joint resolution of April 30, 1934, modified in 1968 (36 U.S.C. 107), has requested the President proclaim the second Monday of October of each year as “Columbus Day.”
NOW, THEREFORE, I, a schmuck who doesn't pay his taxes, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 12, 2020, as Columbus Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I also direct that the flag of the United States be displayed on all public buildings on the appointed day in honor of our diverse history and all who have contributed to shaping this Nation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.
Edited from the original White House proclamation