Photo Credit: Markus Spiske / Raumrot.com
Editor: Mike Carioscia
Do Hardcore Italian-Americans and Italians care about Columbus Day and preserving the identity of Columbus as a national hero? The answer is complicated. There are entire Facebook groups for Italian Americans who are against Columbus Day. However, it was the National Italian American Foundation that helped keep Columbus Day as a holiday back when there were talks of having the situation changed in 2002.
Many of the positive myths about Columbus as some kind of a great adventurer who was friendly to the Native Americans came from Washington Irving in the early nineteenth century. Washington Irving was born of Scottish-English parents, so his false portrayal of Columbus had nothing to do with ethnic pride. We can thank Washington Irving for a lot of bad ideas about history, including the absurd myth that Columbus was trying to prove that the world was round, because this was apparently news to the seafaring society that he came from centuries after the ancients had calculated the circumference of the Earth.
Washington Irving lived before the mass immigration of Italians to the United States. When this happened in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, these individuals experienced a great deal of bigotry. Many Italians tried to find a way to get accepted into mainstream society. Latching onto Christopher Columbus as an ethic hero was a way of doing so in these patriotic days where sensitivity towards the Native Americans and the Italians alike was very low. Columbus Day was first celebrated in Colorado in 1906.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Prejudice against Italian Americans was waned in the past century. However, do a lot of Italian Americans still care about this issue now? Is it something that you have to believe as a matter of course if you are a hardcore Italian or aspiring to be one of the hardcore Italians?
Many people, Italian and otherwise, will point out that there are lots of heroes from the history of Italy that people can celebrate, and Columbus doesn't have to be one of them. This is a compromise position that people might embrace at some point on a broader scale.
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