On September 28, the Seattle City Council embarrassed themselves by voting unanimously to search citizens’ garbage and fine them for food scrap violations. On October 6, they embarrassed the entire country.
They voted to replace the federally recognized holiday Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The council’s resolution, which passed unanimously on Monday October 6, “honors the contributions and culture of Native Americans and the indigenous community in Seattle.”
This pleased tribal members, their supporters, and the surprisingly large number of imported Americans who feel the need to flagellate themselves for things their ancestors did 600 years ago.
Fawn Sharp is one of those pleased locals whose ancestors were there before there was a there there. Sharp is president of the Quinault Indian Nation on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula. “This action will allow us to bring into current present day our valuable and rich history, and it’s there for future generations to learn,” she said. “Nobody discovered Seattle, Washington,” she said to a round of applause.
Seattle city council member Bruce Harrell is one of the happy non-indigenous folks. He said he understood the concerns of people in the Italian-American community, but he added, “I make no excuses for this legislation.” He said he had co-sponsored the resolution because he believes the city will not be successful in its social programs and outreach until “we fully recognize the evils of our past.”
As you might suspect, not everyone in Seattle is thrilled with this attempt to redistribute fame. Some Seattle natives don’t even equate Christopher Columbus with Al Capone. “We don’t argue with the idea of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. We do have a big problem of it coming at the expense of what essentially is Italian Heritage Day,” Ralph Fascitelli, an Italian-American who lives in Seattle, said. “This is a big insult to those of us of Italian heritage. We feel disrespected,” America wouldn’t be America without Christopher Columbus.”
Maybe Mr. Faciatelli is exaggerating a bit, because Columbus had some help creating America, In all, there have been 522 years’ worth of immigrants who brought arithmetic, bricklaying, carpentry, democracy, and an entire alphabet full of skills to the New World. Over time, these people and their hard work replaced the tents, arrowheads, and rain that used to be Seattle with the collection of Victorian houses, fish markets, Starbucks, a Space Needle, and Frasier reruns that, in 2014, we call Seattle.
In any case, Seattle’s banks, post offices, schools, and federal offices will be closed on Monday October 13, whether it’s to commemorate Columbus Day, Indigenous People’s Day, or Marie Osmond’s Birthday. From my viewpoint, 804 miles South of this twaddle, I’ll still offer up a toast to Christopher Columbus.
An interesting footnote: My source for this story, which seemed particularly happy to highlight the “evils of America’s past”, is Al Jazeerra America.
image credit: metmuseum.org