Monday, October 12, 2015

Columbus, Indigenous Peoples, or just another workday for the real world?

So what is the significance of Monday for you?

Are you pleased? Or offended?
Is it Columbus Day – honoring the birth of the Italian explorer who used Spanish money and ships to alert Europeans of the existence of the Americas? Puerto Rico to be exact!

OR IS IT the new phenomenon of Indigenous Peoples’ Day; when we supposedly choose to celebrate the many tribes that already had existed for many, many centuries on the lands that now constitute the North American continent.

I’m not kidding. There are many governments who are trying to make a political statement of their own by dropping the concept of Columbus Day from their own list of officially-recognized holidays. Many have replaced it with the tribute to native peoples.

Although I can’t help but wonder how many people are regarding Monday as just another Monday?

I still recall a woman I once knew who took a job on the Illinois state government payroll after having worked in the private sector, and was shocked to learn she got an actual day off of work in honor of Columbus.

“I HAVEN’T HAD Columbus Day off since grammar school,” I remember her quipping to me.

Now I’m not the best judge of holidays; since I’m used to the idea of having to work all of them while in the commission of covering the news. Columbus Day means there’s a parade that needs to be covered – and the possibility that Indienous Peoples’ Day-types will want to gain free media coverage.

Will you think of Columbus like this...
So what is the significance of the holiday, or what will eventually become of it in future years? This holiday has way too much potential to become overly politicized; which is odd because most people regard the day as nothing.

There are those who want to make a statement out of disrespecting Columbus and European interests by turning this into a generic holiday to celebrate native Indian tribes.

I’LL ADMIT TO thinking the concept of Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a bit of a stretch; possibly as ludicrous as the concept of the soon-to-be complete Hispanic Heritage Month.

Which purports to celebrate the people living in this country whose ethnic origins are from other nations within the Americas – or the Spanish conquistadores who followed up Columbus’ explorations with their own colonial aspirations.

... or regard him like this?
That’s an overly-large number of people being mushed into a generic label “Hispanic,” which is disrespectful to the variety of cultures that truly are included within the “Latino” label.

If anything, “Indigenous Peoples” is even more ridiculous – how many hundreds of tribes once lived all over the now United States? The idea that any such holiday could be meaningful is ridiculous.

WHILE ALSO SERVING to infuriate those of Italian ethnic origins who feel like they’re being singled out for a loss by taking a holiday that many Italian-inspired groups use as a generic day to bring out those “Kiss Me, I’m Italian” t-shirts and celebrate their own ethnic pride!

If anything, a part of me feels like digging out the DVD set of episodes of “The Sopranos” and watching it on Monday. Remember the episode where actor Steven Van Zandt’s “Silvio Dante” character and the crew get all worked up over those Indians disrespecting Italians by ragging on Columbus Day?

How many of us will merely go to work this Monday?
At least until actor James Gandolfini’s “Tony Soprano” tells them at episode’s end to get over themselves and get back to work; while also praising the merits of actor Gary Cooper’s strong, silent-type characters who just did, without complaining about the obstacles ahead of them?

I suspect most of us will just go to work today, and get a laugh out of the fact that in Canada, it’s Thanksgiving Day. Which will make us hungry enough to begin the countdown – only 45 days until we get to stuff ourselves full!


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