Over the last few days, protesters pulled down Chris's statue in Richmond and dumped it into a lake. And in Boston, vandals beheaded a likeness of Chris located in Boston's North End.
What did Mr. Columbus do to deserve these indignities? He discovered America--the racist son of a bitch. And by introducing Europeans to the Western Hemisphere, he ushered in a long era of oppression against the Native population and against Blacks.
OK, we get that. But what are we supposed to do now--all the descendants of privileged Europeans? Go back where we came from? If we did that, who would patronize the Indian casinos?
Of course, I'm being sarcastic. But on a more serious level, I am offended by the morons who vandalize statues of Christopher Columbus. They obviously aren't aware that Columbus symbolizes Catholic contributions to American history.
In the late nineteenth century, American Catholics were still being discriminated against, especially in New England. Protestants were forming men's civic organizations partly to establish life insurance funds for their members. But Catholics were not permitted to join these groups.
Father Michael McGivney, pastor of St. Mary's Church in New Haven, Connecticut, organized a small group of Catholic laymen to provide life insurance for Catholic working men. One of the members suggested a name for the organization: the Knights of Columbus.
Over time, the Knights evolved from being merely an insurance company to becoming a militant organization devoted to stamping out anti-Catholic bigotry in the United States. It was the Knights who led the movement to recognize Columbus Day as a national holiday, and it was the Knights who fought the Ku Klux Klan during the 1920s when the KKK was primarily an anti-Catholic terrorist organization.
By the early twentieth century, Christopher Columbus came to symbolize Catholic contributions to American history. He was especially dear to Italian Catholics because Columbus was Italian. It is no accident that Columbus's statue in Boston is located in the North End--which is Boston's Little Italy.
Although the vandals may not know it, their lawless acts are microaggressions (don't you love that word?) against Catholics and ethnic Catholics in particular. When they deface a statue of Columbus, they dishonor millions of Catholic Americans, and they demonstrate their woeful ignorance of American history.
Note: I am aware that strictly speaking, Columbus did not "discover" America. Scandanavians were probably the first Europeans to explore North America. More to the point, archeologists theorize that the first people to settle the Western Hemisphere came from Siberia via the Bering Land Bridge.