Monday, October 12, 2015

Columbus Day, 2015. (Welcome, welcome, emigrante…)

Pink Slip readers know that, on holidays, I typically write about the holiday. Columbus Day is no exception. It’s a holiday I’ve always enjoyed – even though in order to do so, you have to turn a blind eye to the devastation that Christopher Columbus wrought once the Nina, the Pinta, and the Sancta Maria blew into port.

Of course, having grown up in New England, I don’t so much associate Columbus Day with Christopher Columbus as I do with Italian-Americans. The Irish have St. Patrick’s Day, the Germans have Steuben Day, and the Italians have Columbus Day.

Some places – Seattle is one – have reworked this holiday as Indigenous Peoples Day. In South Dakota, it’s Native Americans Day.

I’m all for setting aside a day to honor Indigenous People. God knows they deserve something more than crummy reservations and the rights to casino gambling.

But if we need to rename Columbus Day – and we probably do – I’d like to see it become Immigrants Day.

Most Americans are from immigrant stock, and, while many would like to pull up the ladder now that we’re here, we continue to be a nation enriched by folks coming from somewhere else who want to become Americans.

Not that it’s likely to happen at a time when there are some who want to build a wall between the US and Mexico, and double down on a wall between the US and Canada while we’re at it. Still, we could do with a holiday honoring our heritage as a place that says – or at least used to say – “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

No, we can’t take in everyone on the face of the earth. Then again, not everyone on the face of the earth wants to come here. But plenty still do.

Here’s Buffy Sainte-Marie from back in the day, welcoming emigrants. As the daughter of one of them, all I can say is thanks.


Here’s last year’s Columbus Day post, which includes a couple of links to Mary Black songs.

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