The True Meaning Of Christopher Columbus Day

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On Monday, Americans across the country celebrate Columbus Day by remembering it exists, frantically trying to figure out if they have to go to work, and then being disappointed when they do. Literally no one uses Columbus Day for its intended purpose of remembering that Christopher Columbus exists. Not even the world 's greatest mattress sale could stop Columbus Day from being the worst federal holiday in America.

Here 's why:

Christopher Columbus was terrible

It 's become pretty cliché at this point to note, because it 's been done to great effect by everyone from famous historians like Howard Zinn and Eduardo Galeano to snarky digital natives like Gawker and The Oatmeal, but Christopher Columbus was a terrible human being.

After
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Even the origin of Columbus Day is horribly depressing

Starting in the late 1800s, a wave of Italian immigrants started coming to America. Instead of welcoming them with open arms, much of the country reacted with revulsion—inventing a litany of derogatory stereotypes (like "swarthy") and even forming lynch mobs to kill Italians. In 1891, one of the largest mass lynchings in American history took place in New Orleans after nine Italians were acquitted of murdering the city 's police chief. An angry mob decided to drag them from their jail cells, along with a pair of other Italians who were being held on unrelated charges, and lynched them all.

In the early 1900s, leaders in the Italian-American community, most notably the Roman Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus, pushed to get the government to honor Columbus Day as a way to convince Americans to stop being so racist
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No one actually celebrates Columbus Day

What if the United States government thew a federal holiday and nobody went? That would basically be Columbus Day.

According to an analysis by Vox, only 15 percent of all private sector workers take the day off and the holiday is only recognized by 22 states. The result is that, in nearly half the states in the country, the only real effect is that parents have to figure out child care solutions because their kids have the day off while they do not. The net result isn 't a day of rest and relaxation. Rather, Columbus Day ends up creating more work than it alleviates.

We 're lionizing the wrong European explorer

In his own post from last year excoriating Columbus 's legacy, The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman proposed a different hero from that era: Bartolome de las Casas. De las Casas was a 16th Century Spanish writer, Dominican friar, and activist for the cause of Native American rights. One of the first European explorers to ever come to the Americas, de las Casas tried and failed to create a model state practicing a less exploitative form of colonialism in Venezuela. Afterward, he became a monk and spent the rest of his life decrying slavery and arguing vigorously in favor of universal human rights for Native Americans. He was appointed to be the first "Protector of the Indians" by the Spanish court and at no point did he cut off anyone 's hand for not
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