Culminating what had been a contentious fight, the Seattle School Board last week voted unanimously to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in public schools on the second Monday of October, the same day that Columbus Day is celebrated nationally.
The school board jumped ahead of the Seattle City Council, which is set to vote on a resolution about Indigenous Peoples Day tonight.
The resolution passed by the school board says, in part, that the board recognizes “the fact that Seattle is built upon the homelands and villages of the Indigenous Peoples of this region, without whom the building of the City would not have been possible,” and schools’ “responsibility to oppose the systematic racism towards Indigenous people in the United States, which perpetuates high rates of poverty and income inequality.”
I’m all for celebrating different cultures and ethnicities as part of the learning process, and I think an Indigenous Peoples Day or something like (preferably with a better name) is not a bad idea, per se.
However, there is more at work here than simply honoring Native American cultural history and expanding young peoples’ educational horizons.
The Seattle School Board’s and City Council’s resolutions are openly seeking to replace Columbus Day, which has been a national holiday since the 1930s.
The reason it became a holiday in the first place is because of Columbus’ unique contribution to history, without which the United States would have been far less likely to come about.
There has been a concerted effort in recent decades to destroy the image of Columbus and minimize his role in history.
While little children may have been told that Columbus “discovered America,” anti-Columbus activists have seemed almost gleeful with every report of this or that explorer or group catching sight of an American shore before Columbus. Adults, of course, should have realized long ago that “discovering” America wasn’t Columbus’ real contribution, but his opening the way for exploration and settlement by Europeans changed world history.
Everyone by now has heard the charge that Columbus “committed genocide” against Native Americans. But Columbus never even set foot in any land that is now part of the United States. It is true that Native American populations were devastated by European diseases, but that’s a simple fact of biology and the arrival of later settlers in North America, hardly Columbus’ doing.
Of all the charges against Columbus, the most damning are claims that he used torture and mutilation as governor of Hispaniola. If a report discovered in 2006 in Spain is accurate, Columbus and his brothers were real SOBs toward their subjects.
A lot of people in history had their dark sides, not always well known. Native Americans, as well, were no more moral exemplars than were the Europeans. They fought, they warred, they stole, they raped, they kept slaves. But Native American culture is not remembered for those things, and Columbus is honored not for being a saint but for being an explorer whose voyages inspired an age of exploration that brought European culture to the Americas and finally led to the United States of America, of which the people of Seattle are a part.
By seeking to supplant Columbus Day, the school board and city council are not honestly trying to honor Native Americans, they are attempting to diminish the culture and history of the United States.
Take note of some of the language in the school board’s resolution: “Without whom the building of the City would not have been possible” is just a gratuitous platitude. But code phrases like “systematic racism” and “perpetuates high rates of poverty and income inequality” betray the real socialist origin and intent of the resolution.
A complete understanding of history is something students should be encouraged to achieve, but the Left is pursuing the wholesale rewriting of history in hopes of ultimately eliminating American culture. Columbus just happens to be the target of the day.