Nel's New Day

October 8, 2018

Celebrating Columbus Day–Or Not

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 7:28 PM
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Buzzfeed has a report on the changes across the nation from celebrating Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. As much of the U.S. celebrates Columbus Day on Monday, nine new cities will join a growing movement that celebrates Native Americans on Indigenous Peoples Day by Michelle Broder Van Dyke.

Nine new cities decided this year to abolish Columbus Day and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, including Albuquerque, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; St. Paul, Minnesota; Bexar County, Texas; Traverse City, Michigan; and Olympia, Washington.

Last year, the holiday was celebrated for the first time in Minneapolis and Seattle, encouraging Native American leaders across the country to push for a new holiday on the second Monday of October that recognizes indigenous people, the Associated Press reported.

The push follows a decades-long campaign that was first realized in 1990, when South Dakota renamed Columbus Day to Native American Day. Two years later, Berkeley, California also created Indigenous Peoples Day.

Two other California cities, Santa Cruz and Sebastopol, as well as Dane County, Wisconsin now also celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, according to Indian Country Today. Alaska and Oregon do not celebrate the day at all, while Hawaii calls it Discoverers’ Day, honoring the Polynesian explorers who first arrived at the archipelago.

The federal holiday for Christopher Columbus was established in 1934. Activists say it celebrates a painful history of colonialism and genocide that followed the explorer’s 1492 arrival, while ignoring the significant contributions of indigenous people.

Supporters of the holiday say it commemorates an important explorer and the relationship between Europe and America. Many Italian-Americans also mention Columbus’ Italian roots and say the holiday is a celebration of their heritage.

John Viola, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Italian American Foundation, said to Reuters that changing Columbus Day dishonors 25 million Italian-Americans and their ancestors.

“By default, we’re like the collateral damage of this trend,” Viola said.

For over a decade, San Francisco and several other cities have called the holiday Italian Heritage Day instead.

Native Americans make up about 2% of the U.S. population, making them the nation’s smallest demographic.

“For the Native community here, Indigenous Peoples Day means a lot. We actually have something,” said Nick Estes, who is coordinating a celebration Monday following the Albuquerque City Council’s adoption of the holiday. “We understand it’s just a proclamation, but at the same time, we also understand this is the beginning of something greater.”

Parades and festivals honoring Columbus Day have been met by protests over the years, with many in Denver becoming confrontational. The city stopped the protest for almost a decade, after a 1992 parade became particularly tense.

Native American groups have now turned to City Hall, hoping to make changes in the holiday there. Oklahoma City is set to vote on a similar proposal later this month.

Still, protests are planned near places honoring the explorer, such as in midtown Manhattan, where the world’s largest Columbus parade is held, according to Reuters.

It’s difficult to think of a more perverse hero than Christopher Columbus, the Italian who led Europe’s first landing party in the Americas.

From rape, to pillage, to flat-out murder, Columbus and his men were the first Europeans to commit horrendous atrocities against America’s indigenous people.

Among the reasons for changing the name are these reports about Christopher Columbus’ actions:

Wrote “we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” In his journal, he added, “As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.”

Ordered all natives 14 years and older to collect an identified amount of gold every three months and cut off their hands if they failed. The order was in an area with little gold, and fleeing natives were hunted down and killed.
Knifed Indians by twenties and cut “slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades, according to priest Bartoleme de las Casas about Columbus’ Spaniards. He reported that “our work was to exasperate, ravage, kill, mangle and destroy.”
Hung or burned captive Indians to the the point that Arawaks committed mass suicides, feeding cassava poison to their infants. Two years after Columbus’ arrival, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead, either through murder, mutilation or suicide. By 1550, 500 Indians were still alive, and by 1650, the Arawaks were wiped out from the island.
Kidnapped a Carib woman and gave her to a crew member to rape.
And Christopher Columbus never set foot on United States land. Happy Columbus Day!

September 10, 2013

Still No Evidence to Attack Syria

President Obama delivered his pro-forma speech promoting war tonight if Russia can’t arrange a deal with Bashar Assad to turn over chemical weapons. The speech was well-delivered but highly misleading with unsupported statements.

The president’s statement that “everyone knows” that Assad used chemical weapons is wrong. The rebels and Israel told Secretary of State John Kerry that was true, and he appears to have believed the people who want the U.S. to attack in their benefit.

The president’s statement that over 1,000 people were killed with sarin is wrong. The opposition has identified only 678 people who died—a long way from the 1,400+ originally given, and no proof thus far exists that they died from sarin. Even Kerry used the term “signature” of sarin which could be from chemicals in pesticide.

The president’s statement that the U.S. would solve the whole problem by just sending in drones is wrong. He cannot be sure that it won’t continue, and the drones will continue to kill innocent people. The only difference in the deaths is that the U.S. will be killing people in Syria if this country decides to attack.

There is no proof that Assad used chemical weapons. Even White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough admitted on his whirlwind tour of interviews last Sunday that there is no concrete evidence Assad was responsible for the chemical attacks. He said, “The common-sense test says he is responsible for this.” A German newspaper reported that Assad had denied Syrian military permission to use chemical weapons for almost five months. According to Bild am Sonntag, this intelligence came from phone calls intercepted by a German BND-operated surveillance ship off the Syrian coast,

The United States is attack-happy. The last five presidents have ordered 20 different military actions against other countries, many of them condemned by the U.N.:

  • Ronald Reagan: Lebanon, Grenada, and Libya
  • George H. W. Bush: Panama, Iraq, and Somalia
  • Bill Clinton: Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq (again), and Kosovo
  • *George W. Bush: Afghanistan and Iraq
  • *Barack Obama: Libya
  • *These don’t include the deadly drone strikes killing people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen

If Sen. John “Bomb Bomb Iran” McCain (R-AZ) had his way, we would have attacked far more countries. His past attitudes fit with his declaration, in between playing poker on his iPhone during a Senate hearing, that he won’t support anything less than an extensive aerial assault. Even after he heard about the possibility of Syria giving up chemical weapons, he stressed an alternative should be highly punitive against the country.

McCain wants to attack

This map shows where McCain wants to escalate international conflicts, asking for airstrikes, ground war for regime change, open military confrontation, unspecified aggression, and a new Cold War in dealing with Russia. The chart below is from a Mother Jones article that has other great graphics.

Mccain chartOn the rational side is Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), who has asked Congress to reject warmongering. In an interview on Democracy Now!’s September 5 broadcast, Grayson directed at Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about the media report “that the administration has mischaracterized post-attack Syrian military communications and that these communications actually express surprise about the attack.” Grayson asked for the transcripts confirming the existence of an attack. Hagel didn’t seem to be aware of the media reports and then covered by saying that the transcripts were probably classified.

Grayson asked Secretary of State John Kerry about reports that members of the Syrian opposition had said that they didn’t want an attack. Kerry said he hadn’t heard of that. Grayson continued:

“Let’s talk about what our responsibilities are not. Our responsibilities are not to ignore the United Nations. Our responsibilities are not to ignore NATO or the Arab League. Our responsibility is not to ignore the international court of The Hague. Our responsibility is not to make vague remarks about red lines and to follow them up with equally vague remarks about violating international norms, which is a cover for saying that they have—that the Syrians have not violated international laws. I’m very disturbed by this general idea, this notion, that every time we see something bad in the world, we should bomb it….

There is substantial evidence right now, which the Russians have chosen to actually present to the United Nations, unlike the United States at this point, of the rebels using poison gas. Are we going to bomb both sides?”

Grayson also said that no member of Congress has seen the underlying document to the evidence. They have merely received a four-page unclassified document and, in “the bowels of the congressional facility here,” a 12-page classified document citing 300 intelligence reports that have not been released to anyone in Congress. As Grayson wrote in an op-ed published in the New York Times, “The first enumerates only the evidence in favor of an attack. I’m not allowed to tell you what’s in the classified summary, but you can draw your own conclusion.” He said he asked the House Intelligence Committee staff whether there was any other documentation available, classified or unclassified. Their answer was “no.”

According to Grayson, the administration expects members of Congress to support its play to attack Syria without any evidence. He compared this problem to his experience with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who made every relevant classified e-mail, cable, and intelligence report about the Benghazi attack to every member of Congress. In refusing to allow legislators access to Syrian underlying data, members of Congress cannot possibly independently judge the veracity of the material.

Grayson also pointed out that the House, is failing in dealing with nation’s business:

“We are three weeks away from the government shutting down. We are five weeks away from the government running out of money. And we’ve already spent two weeks engaged in a subject where almost everyone feels it’s simply not our responsibility. I said on MSNBC recently that the entire U.S. government, both Democratic and Republican, seems to be suffering from a very bad case of attention deficit disorder. We’re not showing any ability to focus on the things that actually matter in the lives of our constituents. And it’s not getting better; it’s getting worse….

“We have 20 million people in this country who are looking for full-time work. We have almost 50 million people in this country who rely upon the government to feed them. We have almost 40 million people in this country who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick. That’s what actually matters in the lives of Americans.”

About 70,000 people have been killed by the Mexican drug cartels in the past seven years. Over 100,000 people were killed in Syria during the past year. In the past decade, 400,000 people were killed in Darfur. Over 1,000 innocent Bangladesh garment workers were killed in just one accident, but Wal-mart won’t do anything about factory conditions. Almost 400 women have been killed just in Ciudad Juarez in the past 20 years. In 1994 almost 1 million people were killed in Rwanda. Tens of thousands of people in the United States died each year because they lack health insurance, the benefit that the House will be voting to take away from them for the 41st time this coming week. Why aren’t these people as important as the 678 people who could cause another world war?

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker may have said it best: “If your mind has wandered to the playground, where little boys get in fights over taunts and fragile pride, welcome to the sandbox. What say we all brush off our britches and think this one through? … The measure of one’s credibility … is also whether a nation is willing to be wise.”

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