The Universal Notebook: Conflicts over Columbus, the Confederacy

In the era of Trump, we are confronted with moral conflicts and ambiguities: long-standing Confederate Memorials are toppling; Columbus Day is now officially Indigenous People’s Day. Ironically, Columbus Day was not originally intended as a celebration of Christopher Columbus — it was established by Italian-Americans in 1866, as a celebration of their own heritage. The origins and history of the holiday raises questions about whether or not it should have been renamed so hastily.

Key Takeaways:

  • President Trump’s passive support or indifference to white nationalism has emboldened efforts to oppose or attack symbols of white hegemony in American culture and history, with examples of these symbols being the celebration of “Columbus” day and the Confederate flag.
  • These cultural symbols under attack weren’t necessarily envisioned as “white power” symbols at their genesis, as Columbus Day was an invention of the Italian-American community attempting to be patriotic and the Confederate flag having a deeper, more complex meaning for most Southerners than merely to celebrate the slave-holding old South.
  • While the incentive for opposing these cultural symbols is certainly valid and necessary, care should be taken that people not go overboard in these matters simply because of the election of Donald Trump.

“The reason all this is happening now is that the election of Trump and his apparent support for white nationalism have legitimized and embolden racists and forced the majority of Americans to oppose Trump and his troglodytes by rubbing their noses in the sins of our fathers.”

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