Opinion

Taking Down Christopher Columbus

In his widely-touted “60 Minutes” interview, Breitbart chief Steve Bannon appeared to disagree with the notion that all Americans are immigrants, except for Native Americans.

“This is the thing of the leftists. Charlie, that’s beneath you,” Bannon responded to Charlie Rose’s lecturing on the matter, while continuing to reiterate that America was built on her citizens — not immigrants.

That comment received flak in its refusal to grant credence to one of the great articles of faith of our time — America must not place limits on immigration because we’re all immigrants, except for Native Americans.

This belief implies that Amerindians are the only ones who have the right to criticize immigration, even though it’s a great thing that nobody should criticize.

It’s an odd assumption because the Native American experience doesn’t quite make a stirring example of the benefits of mass immigration.

That brings up the other issue where “Native Americans are the real Americans” comes up in debate — the role of Christopher Columbus in our society. The mania for removing Confederate statues recently made its way down the slippery slope to Columbus.

Statues in his honor have been attacked all throughout the country. Los Angeles officially renamed Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day. New York City is also considering the same name change for the holiday, as well as proposals to take down Columbus statues.

Even though Columbus initiated all the great immigration to the New World, we’re not supposed to like him anymore.

In the past, he was considered a world-historical figure whose discovery led to European cultivation of the Americas — and that was a good thing.

Now it’s considered a bad thing and Columbus is smeared as a genocidal maniac.

At the same time, immigration is considered inherently good. Columbus’s accomplishments led to one of the largest migrations in human history, a development that America’s creation depended on. Most of us would not be living here and the United States would not exist without Columbus’s voyage.

But the resulting conclusion from the war on Columbus is that the European discovery of America is one of the worst atrocities in human history and we should not honor it. So says Los Angeles, a city which owes its name to the Spanish who funded the great explorer.

It’s weird that immigration and cultural contact is always good, unless Native Americans say differently.

Columbus is commonly defended on the basis of his status as a hero for the Italian-American community. This is a throwback to the days when WASP elites didn’t like the idea of honoring an Italian during the height of Ellis Island immigration — they preferred to celebrate the Nordic Leif Erikson as the discoverer of the continent instead.

In opposition, Italian-Americans, and Catholics in general, upheld Columbus to prove they belonged because he was such a towering figure in our society. The Erikson hero cult didn’t catch on, and Columbus rightfully retained his place as the man who led the way for European migration.

The Genoan explorer isn’t just a man for those of Italian heritage to venerate, but for all Americans. If we accept the left-wing argument that we’re all immigrants, shouldn’t we honor the guy who made that possible?

But that line is never going to be accepted. The argument that we’re all immigrants is simply used to shame those of European descent whose families have been here for generations. “Your Irish/German/Polish etc. ancestor came here on a boat, thus you can’t argue for any restrictions on immigration,” is usually how it goes.

Non-Amerindians can never wash away their immigrant status, no longer how long they’ve been here.

It’s a deceptive argument used to undermine the claims that the country should put its citizens first when it comes to immigration policy. The “we’re all immigrants” article of faith unwittingly denigrates the idea of America as a polity of citizens, because it places immigration as the core aspect of American identity.

Citizenship isn’t as important to that identity, and having it doesn’t make you more American than non-citizens. “Dreamers Are Americans!” is commonly shouted during the debate over DACA, even though those illegal immigrants are not citizens.

So why not honor Columbus, whose discovery led to all this great immigration? That’s what we’re built on right? Shouldn’t the Left like that?

The answer is that the Left no longer wants to remember Columbus for the old America he represents with all its racism and “Eurocentrism.” The new America must atone for the sins committed by explorers and colonists, and one of the best ways to do so is to allow more immigrants to come to this nation.

Even though America as a nation-state was formed by largely British settlers, the modern proponents of mass immigration treat them as illegal aliens who have no moral claim to deny access to this nation. Only Amerindians, who did not found our country and many of whom fought against it, are the only ones with that claim.

Thus, we need to erase Columbus Day and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead.

The message delivered by this change and the accompanying pro-immigration rhetoric: Europeans finding America was terrible and the only way to make up for it is open borders.

Just as the Native American tribes that fought European immigration would have had it.

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