Although 57 percent of Americans believe in celebrating Columbus Day, the late explorer Christopher Columbus is in the crosshairs of liberals again, more than 511 years after he died.
Among those targeting the late, great Italian navigator are Antifa and left-wing intellectuals, as well as the liberal governments of several U.S. cities who no longer acknowledge Columbus on his holiday, which is this coming Monday.
The violent partisans at Antifa have named Monday “Deface Columbus Day,” hoping to see acts of vandalism against Columbus statues.
The famed Italian explorer stirs leftist passions primarily because of traditional hatred of Western culture. The Italian navigator and discoverer, a vaunted legend to many Italian-Americans, and Americans in general, was hired by the Spanish crown in 1492 to find a new route to Asia. Instead, Columbus found North America.
Historians believe Iceland’s Leif Erikson was likely the first European to find America, before his death, circa 1020 A.D., but Columbus made the first official discovery for modern Europeans, notifying the queen and all of Europe. The race was on to settle this “New World.”
Liberals claim the manner in which Columbus helped settled the Americas is the reason he should not be acclaimed.
By discovering the Americas for the Spanish — and starting the race to settle the Americas — Columbus kicked off a series of conflicts and wars between the Native Americans and the Europeans.
Millions of Native Americans would die from disease and warfare. Some would be enslaved; others would be exploited.
Meanwhile, the Left argues, land that did not belong to Spain, Portugal, France and England was seized from Native Americans. Columbus is blamed by some on the Left for starting this mistreatment of Native Americans.
Columbus has always been derided by the Left and Native American activists, but anti-Columbus efforts — including efforts to get his U.S. holiday renamed — have gained steam in the United States and Canada in recent years.
Last November the city of Bloomington, Indiana, announced it would call Columbus Day “Fall Holiday” for the purposes of employee vacations.
And Portland, Oregon, renamed the holiday outright in 2015, calling it “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
New York City, under leftist Mayor Bill de Blasio, may add “an explanation plaque” to its famous Columbus statue. And Baltimore’s Columbus statue was attacked by Antifa vandals in August.
Much of the credit for the recent anti-Columbus sentiment should go to the late Howard Zinn, a historian and former professor of political science at Boston University. Zinn, a socialist, retired from BU in 1988 and died in January 2010, but NewsBusters’ Matt Philbin noted in a recent editorial that in the past five years, Zinn and his work have been cited 31 times by The New York Times, 52 times by The Washington Post, and over 180 times by the liberal Huffington Post.
Yet according to a recent Marist Poll, 57 percent of Americans still believe that celebrating Columbus Day is a “good idea,” while only 29 percent oppose the holiday.
The survey also shows that a majority of Americans disregard Zinn’s use of “presentism” in judgment of Columbus. Presentism applies modern ethics and standards to behavior in other centuries. Seventy-six percent of Americans believe that Columbus and other historical figures should be judged by the standards of conduct of their own lifetimes, as opposed to modern standards, the Marist Poll found.
“The polling shows pretty clearly history has to be viewed with a contextual lens,” said Andrew Walther, vice president of communications for the Knights of Columbus, speaking to LifeZette on Thursday. “We need to be cognizant of the world in which Columbus lived.”
Columbus is viewed either “favorably” or “very favorably” by 56 percent of Americans, according to Marist. Only 28 percent have a negative view of the Italian navigator. The Marist Poll surveyed 1,224 adults and was conducted between September 11 and 13.
Columbus Day will be celebrated on Monday.
“The Knights of Columbus joins the vast majority of Americans in celebrating Columbus Day,” said Carl Anderson, CEO of Knights of Columbus, in a statement emailed to LifeZette. “He was a man ahead of his time, who brought two worlds together and began the process that led to the founding of this country. It is a testament to Americans’ commitment to a fair reading of history that the explorer’s popularity has endured despite the unfair and hateful attacks by British propagandists, the Ku Klux Klan, and revisionist academics.”
The Knights of Columbus is the largest non-clergy Catholic fraternal organization in the world. Founded in New Haven, Connecticut, the fraternity is named for the Italian explorer because of his breakthrough work in navigation and to combat anti-Italian and anti-Catholic bigotry present in many American cities for much of the 20th century.
Other Columbus defenders, such as the National Christopher Columbus Association, are fighting back. The association runs a website at TruthAboutColumbus.com.