The War on Columbus Day

by Andrew Johnson

Christmas isn’t the only holiday facing a political-correctness battle: The College Fix reports that the student government at Arizona State University has voted to rename Columbus Day “Indigenous People Day.” This is the latest move by those who believe it is inappropriate to honor the explorer with a holiday because of his and subsequent European settlers’ mistreatment of natives of the New World.

A campus-paper editorial voiced its support for the measure by saying, “When we recognize the holiday as Columbus’ Day, we already remember the person who launched the trajectory that left Native Americans in the state they are today — living on reservations where they suffer from the lowest rates of education and health care in the country.” According to The College Fix, “students were split on the issue,” being either for, against, or indifferent to the university’s renaming.

Meanwhile, Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity and an NRO contributor, doesn’t see recognizing both Columbus and indigenous people as being mutually exclusive. He explained, “There’s nothing wrong with celebrating Native America — as a heritage, not a race, since the principle of E pluribus unum means that we shouldn’t be singling out particular races for celebration. And there’s nothing wrong with celebrating the heroic explorers of America either.” 

“The juxtaposition in replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People Day, on the other hand, is a silly anti-Western statement and a celebration of fashionable victimhood,” he added. Clegg said it is possible “to celebrate both without denigrating either.”

Columbus Day is an official federal holiday, but some states choose not to recognize it or provide a day off. Other states celebrate alternative holidays on the same day, such as Hawaii (Discoverers’ Day) and South Dakota (Native American Day).