Christopher Columbus is seen by some as the person who opened the door to the genocide of Native Americans—and as such, those people celebrate today as Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day. On Mediaite, Philip Bump appreciates that sentiment, but notes that it’s a little “knee-jerk.” After all, if we’re honest, “the door of genocide … would have been opened sooner or later,” because “people are—and always have been—selfish jerks.” Europeans and Americans oppressed Native Americans and did “horrible things to them,” Bump acknowledges. But he has a better idea for today’s holiday.
Columbus Day, he notes, was actually founded as a celebration of Catholics. Amidst rampant anti-Catholic sentiment in the 19th century as a surge of Catholics immigrated to America, the Knights of Columbus wanted to recognize the fact that a Catholic discovered the continent. Instead of honoring one individual, by celebrating it instead as Immigration Day, we would be acknowledging that immigrants have “always made us stronger." It would be especially appropriate today, as Mexican immigration spurs many of the same fears that Catholic and Irish immigration did all those years ago. On Immigration Day, Bump writes, we can celebrate the fact that “Columbus unveiled a new world. Americans made it open to everyone." (Read more Christopher Columbus stories.)