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Stereotype of the Month Entry
(9/2/01)


Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

Bring on Columbus Day

By Al Knight
Denver Post columnist

Sunday, September 02, 2001 -- The battle over Denver's Columbus Day Parade has turned into a drawn-out event mostly because the parties involved can't seem to keep their eyes on the right issue.

Again this year, weeks before the scheduled "Columbus Day Italian Pride Parade," the players who made such a hash of things last year are warming up for what could become a repeat performance.

Last year, city and federal authorities first attempted to coerce the parade sponsors into eliminating all references to Christopher columbus and only later accepted the obvious fact that the sponsors were entitled to express their own message and were entitled to appropriate police protection. Nonetheless, some 147 protesters managed to get themselves arrested on charges that the city ultimately dropped.

That chain of events sets it up nicely for this year. The Columbus Day Parade opponents this time will hold their own parade Oct. 6, but have once again intruded upon the territory of the Italian-American parade sponsors by "discussing" certain compromises that would satisfy those who hate the sound of "Christopher Columbus."

We have been down this road before and a moment's sober reflection is all that is needed to avoid it again. The city doesn't need a safety manager who gets involved in the issues of what the parade should be called or the selection of floats and flowers. It needs a safety manager who says, simply, "When there is a parade, we'll provide the police protection." Nor does the city need another round of negotiations between the American Indian Movement and the various "activists" of one stripe or another who always seem to have idle time on their hands.

The Italian-American sponsors and supporters of this event simply need to get in the same room and agree on what principle is important here. The dispute over their parade is and has been about political control. Protests over the parade in Denver are part of a plan to eliminate all national references to the man who schoolchildren for years have celebrated as the one "who discovered America." The question involved is whether the life of that man can be honored or not. There is no middle ground. If his name is removed from the civic arena and history rewritten to satisfy a very narrow view of his life, then it won't matter how many Italian-American History Months we celebrate, we will have lost the right to free and independent thought and speech.

It is absurd that, as this is being written, there is a proposal for two parades on the same day, one celebrating the man, the other not. A Columbus Day Parade without columbus is not worth having.

The Italian-Americans can profitably take a page from the AIM playbook. Keep your eye on the prize. The Native Americans protesting the use of sports names like "Indians," "Braves," "Redskins," "Sioux," etc., don't compromise. Just recently, a high school team in Maryland was ordered to stop using the name "Indians," and to remove all related insignia. The Maryland board of education had decreed that the move was necessary to make "every student"- presumably every Native American student -- "comfortable at all times."

This is nonsense, but the same sort of change has been forced on many schools, which -- unlike owners of the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and Washington Redskins -- are too weak to resist the sweep of the political correctness movement.

AIM and its allies are not in doubt about what they want: control over the language. The Italian-Americans here need to understand, if they don't already, that this is a fight over language. It is not about Italian-American pride or any other kind of pride. It is a fight, an important fight and it is worth winning.

Parade sponsors in this country, thanks to a unanimous Supreme Court decision, have a right to express their own message, not that which some other group wishes them to express. Anything less than the perpetuation of that right in Denver will be a defeat -- not just for Italian-Americans, but for everyone who still cares about that important language contained in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

Al Knight (aknight@chaffee.net) is a member of The Denver Post editorial board.

All contents Copyright 2001 The Denver Post

Rob's reply
>> Protests over the parade in Denver are part of a plan to eliminate all national references to the man who schoolchildren for years have celebrated as the one "who discovered America." <<

Eliminate all references to Columbus? How absurd can you get? Where did Knight see this "plan": in his dreams? If he can document this "plan," let's see him do it.

The goal (not the "plan") may be to eliminate all references to "discovered America"Śnot to Columbus. That would be sensible since Columbus didn't discover America.

>> The question involved is whether the life of that man can be honored or not. <<

Actually, the question is why we should honor Columbus's life. Curiously, Knight doesn't touch this central issue. What's wrong, Al...is the question too hot for you to handle?

>> There is no middle ground. <<

Sure there is. Any number of compromises might satisfy the Native protesters.

>> If his name is removed from the civic arena and history rewritten to satisfy a very narrow view of his life <<

You mean the view that Columbus didn't discover America because it was already inhabited? And when he met the inhabitants, he decided they were subhuman and would make good chattel? So he killed a few of them and enslaved the rest? That narrow view?

>> then it won't matter how many Italian-American History Months we celebrate, we will have lost the right to free and independent thought and speech. <<

Whoa. Protesting a government-sanctioned holiday is the same as eliminating "free and independent thought"? Next Al will be telling us the solar system is endangered if Denver doesn't hold this parade. Talk about your rhetorical overkill.

>> A Columbus Day Parade without Columbus is not worth having. <<

Bingo. Why don't we call the whole thing off and celebrate Native American day instead? If Columbus hadn't bumbled into America, someone else would've "discovered" it later. Meanwhile, the Indian question was central to America's development.

>> The Native Americans protesting the use of sports names like "Indians," "Braves," "Redskins," "Sioux," etc., don't compromise. <<

That's funny considering the American educational establishment has most of the power in the debate. In fact, mascot protesters accept whatever they can get. If it's eliminating prancing mascots and vulgar team names, they'll take it because they don't have a lot of choice.

>> The Maryland board of education had decreed that the move was necessary to make "every student"- presumably every Native American student -- "comfortable at all times." <<

No, every student. Many non-Indian students aren't hidebound defenders of the status quo, so they understand that Indian team names and mascots are offensive. They feel uncomfortable if their fellow students are offended.

>> This is nonsense <<

Yes, Knight's column is nonsense. But at least it provides a nice Stereotype of the Month entry.

>> the same sort of change has been forced on many schools, which -- unlike owners of the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and Washington Redskins <<

Just wait. Their time is coming. The Patent and Trademark Office has already ruled against "Redskins" name, saying it's derogatory. Expect more lawsuits in the future.

>> are too weak to resist the sweep of the political correctness movement. <<

That's one way of putting it. Another way is that school boards are smarter than team owners who don't see that their position is illogical and immoral.

See Political Correctness Defined for more on the "political correctness" charge.

>> AIM and its allies are not in doubt about what they want: control over the language. <<

Don't soft-sell your argument now, Al. They don't just want to "control" our language. They want to "control" our history.

They want to control it so the people who control it now will finally tell the truth. In other words, they want everyone to know the true history of America, not the false history perpetuated by genocide apologists. The truth, as David Rider put it, that "In the end, the Americans stole or coerced 98 percent of this land from those who occupied it before Columbus."

>> It is a fight, an important fight and it is worth winning. <<

That's why we're planning to win it, Al. Hope you don't mind losing too much. The monocultural viewpoint is literally and figuratively history; the multicultural viewpoint is here to stay.

>> Parade sponsors in this country, thanks to a unanimous Supreme Court decision, have a right to express their own message, not that which some other group wishes them to express. <<

They have a right to express their message and the AIM activists have a right to express theirs. So what's the problem? Let free speech ring and the best message win.

If a little free speech interrupts the happy-go-lucky paradeŚwell, that'll be too bad. The parade organizers may want to move to a country where free speech isn't tolerated. Then they can hold their parade in peace, safe from protests of their false history.

Related links
This ain't no party:  a Columbus Day rant
Outside the so-called ethnic box


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