Columbus Day has come once more, but it carries an even more important message for the Italian American community this year. The threatening of removal of the statues dedicated to this great explorer are real and, unfortunately, have not been discarded by a weak and politically opportunistic Mayor of the City of New York who flaunted his ‘embraced’ Italian roots gladly and abundantly at election time, discarding his real last name of German origin, but who now hesitates to take a strong stand against such irrational thoughts as the one of forcefully rewriting history (a step that, by the way, has not brought happy endings in the past). That the movement to remove Columbus statues comes from a politician who praised a terrorist and wanted him to walk in a parade is even more irritating because the New York’s Council President seems to want to rewrite even that piece of history, making this man who dedicated most of his life to subversive acts that brought deaths to innocents bystanders a ‘patriot’, adding insult to injury.
Given these premises and the fact that a few of the statues have been defaced, I believe it’s important, more so today than in previous years, to celebrate this holiday and participate in all the activities related to it, especially walking in the parade, if that’s possible, to show our unity both as an ethnic group and admirers of the “explorer per excellence,” the man who has opened a new world to Europeans and allowed a flow of products that changed the lives of everyone (Columbian exchange). Even though some evil occurrences also came out of it, the importance of his daring exploration still resounds in the world. Without being dismissive of the plight of the Caribbean natives, who suffered deeply to the hands of the Spanish ‘invaders’ or ‘colonizers,’ we have to remind us that these actions were fruit of their times and repeated over and over by most Europeans and then Americans throughout the history of the past five hundred years (ask the Apache, Cheyenne, Crow, Seminole and other American tribes how well they were treated by the white ‘colonizers’ of the time and their government.) That does not make it right or acceptable, but it does put a different light on the events. Slavery and colonization are a stain upon ALL humanity and we can’t just pick one man as a culprit.
To celebrate this holiday, then, becomes an essential step for our Italian American community in telling the world, Mr. De Blasio and Ms. Viverito that we are united in our belief and we will stand against these irrational and unjust attacks on Christopher Columbus.
On our part, we are happy to announce that Marianna Biazzo Randazzo, our correspondent from the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum and the winner of the Sons of Italy’s Foundation Literary Award, was chosen to be on the float of the international booksellers Barnes & Noble, one among a selected group of the most revered Italian American authors. Furthermore, her book “Given Away, the Rest of the Story,” published by Idea Press, was chosen to be the central item in the Italian American authors’ presentation at various bookstores throughout New York City’ metropolitan area. Congratulations to Marianna for her achievements and the recognition Barnes & Noble has bestowed upon her. With an appeal to all our readers in the NY metropolitan area to participate with their respective associations to the 2017 Columbus Day parade, I wish you all “Happy Columbus Day.”