Defending Columbus Day

Over at the American Scholar, William J. Connell, a professor of History and Italian Studies at Seton Hall, reflects on the meaning of Columbus Day.  You really need to read the entire piece to grasp his entire argument, but here is a snippet:

When thinking about the Columbus Day holiday it helps to remember the good intentions of the people who put together the first parade in New York. Columbus Day was first proclaimed a national holiday by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892, 400 years after Columbus’s first voyage. The idea, lost on present-day critics of the holiday, was that this would be a national holiday that would be special for recognizing both Native Americans, who were here before Columbus, and the many immigrants–including Italians–who were just then coming to this country in astounding numbers. It was to be a national holiday that was not about the Founding Fathers or the Civil War, but about the rest of American history…