You may be one of those smarmy individuals who thinks himself clever as he’s about to post some comment about Columbus Day and all the horrible things Columbus did that we all very much know about already. We should all be ashamed of celebrating a holiday about someone so terrible.
In case you didn’t notice, all of human history is founded upon horrendous violence against each other. The very fact that identifiable ethnic groups exist is predicated on one group conquering another and then breeding within itself for many generations. Every single culture that we have ever known arose by killing off many forgotten ones around it. To make a long story short, we are all guilty of genocide against each other.
We celebrate Columbus Day because the man literally changed the course of human history. Yes, he and those who came after did unspeakable things to the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Of course, everyone likes to sweep under the rug the fact that the overwhelming majority of deaths happened due to smallpox and other factors that nobody could have prevented even if they were fully aware of it at the time, and that thus all the suffering and extinction of most native cultures was inevitable afterwards. Yes, the Europeans were systematically guilty of cultural genocide despite all those factors. They knew, on some level, what they were doing to them and didn’t really give a shit.
Here’s the thing: that’s all pointless. All of you are implying that this was some conscious, individual choice that could have been prevented if we imperialist Europeans hadn’t been such dicks. You’re missing one very important and irrevocable fact: if Columbus hadn’t done this, someone else would have. When you get right down to it, history is utterly authoritarian. Force is really all that matters in the end. Nearly all of humanity’s problems and debates have ultimately been settled by the sword or the gun, not through diplomacy or talk.
If you had been in Columbus’ position—i.e, had you been born, raised, and subject to the culture, constraints, and beliefs of the time—you would have done the exact same thing as he did. Don’t pretend you’re some higher being because you live in the world his progeny helped create. All the things that made Columbus do what he did—of his own free will—run through your veins.
Saying Columbus did terrible things to the Indians is like saying the sky is blue. It’s 100% true; it also tells us nothing we didn’t already know. We celebrate Christmas because Jesus Christ had an indescribable impact on history, but I don’t see many people making half-tricky posts on Facebook about the tremendous negative consequences of the Christian religion and how we should all be ashamed of celebrating it. Beyond that, none of our holidays make much sense anyway: why do we celebrate the fact that our planet has gone around the sun another time?
Get off your little high horse and enjoy your day off, if you are able. Like it or not, Columbus was a really important person. That’s why we have Columbus day. Nobody said he had to be important for a good reason.