To the editor: The decision by the Los Angeles City Council to remove any mention of Christopher Columbus from the Oct. 12 employee holiday is both an overreach of political correctness and also a failure to see the big picture. (“L.A. City Council replaces Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day on city calendar,” Aug. 30)
For thousands of years the humans in the Eastern and Western hemispheres were completely unaware of those on the other side of the earth. Can anyone name a more important event in the history of humanity than the reconnection of the peoples of the two halves of the planet, which began on Oct. 12, 1492?
Of course we must discard the concept that Columbus “discovered America,” as if the millions of humans who already lived here didn’t count. And the meeting of the two civilizations caused many tragic consequences that should not be glossed over.
Yet Columbus rightfully deserves credit for his initiative and courage in leading the dangerous expedition that reunited the two halves of humanity.
Cyril Barnert, Los Angeles
To the editor: As a first-generation American who is proud of my Italian heritage, I want to speak in defense of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.
Yes, Italians have experienced discrimination and prejudice, as have the Irish and now Mexicans, but nothing compares with the treatment of native peoples beginning with Columbus’ arrival in the Americas.
Columbus was a courageous and skillful navigator, but his legacy includes the subjugation and enslavement of native peoples. He does not symbolize the best of Italian culture. In the sciences, the arts, music, philosophy and literature, other Italians have made major contributions to Western civilization.
Now is the time for acknowledging and celebrating the history and contributions of native peoples and their continuing presence in California.
Doris Isolini Nelson, Los Angeles
To the editor: We’re living in difficult and dangerous times when many seek to divide us, even the man at the top. The Los Angeles City Council has shown a distinct lack of wisdom in swinging the celebration of the second Monday in October from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.
This action is divisive and will foster resentment. How about instead declaring the holiday one that celebrates all those living here in the Western Hemisphere, something like “Peoples of the Americas Day”?
Walter Hall, North Hollywood
To the editor: Columbus was not the first white man to reach North American shores. The Vikings arrived in what is now Nova Scotia around the year 1000. And yes, there are artifacts to prove it.
Columbus barely touched the continent. Most of his exploration was confined to islands in the Caribbean Sea. To blame him for disease and other problems brought over by Europeans is ridiculous.
Columbus Day was proclaimed to acclaim the man as an explorer who had the courage to face the unknown. His sense for exploration in the 15th century was no different than that of our scientists who explore the universe with probing cameras. The difference is that Columbus risked his life while the scientists sit in front of a computer screen.
Before people start changing holiday names, they ought to understand history better. There may be some out there who want a Leif Erikson Day.
Joan Kerr, Torrance