Columbus Day dissent is not new: A short history of protest

A reverend at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan surfaced on the front page of The New York Times preceding his criticism of Christopher Columbus, the Italian mariner who sailed to America on behalf of Spain in 1492. The reverend, R. S. MacArthur, said Columbus was brutal and culpable of many crimes.

The remonstrance resonates familiarity to those who castigate the explorer for opening a door to European colonialism, which accompanied ill health, demolition and calamitous war to the residents. But Mr. MacArthur recalled those words more than a century ago, in 1893. His remarks recommend he was more offended by Spain which he vociferated as the penurious and most backward countries in Europe than apprehensive about Native Americans. He was suggestive to have probed inheritance of the explorer whose advent in Americas has been commemorated in the US for hundreds of years.

Americans honored Columbus’s first anchorage in the Caribbean in 1792 when representatives of Tammany Society of New York and independently the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston convened to mark the 300th anniversary of the day when Spanish ships made landfall.

In the 19th and 20th centuries the holiday was often appraised an observance for Italian Americans and Catholics. Churches and institutions such as Knights of Columbus sometimes made use of Columbus Day gatherings to publicly censure bigotry against Catholics.

Antagonism to Columbus Day merriment has arrived in more conventional forms too like Clyde Haberman, the Times columnist wrote on Oct 22, 2002 that there was resentment and misdemeanor on all sides involving the Mayor who considered himself as a disabled party and ignored the parade, proceeding towards Bronx for linguine marinara.

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