Our city is plagued with a severe drug epidemic, the infrastructure is collapsing around us (including our outdated subway system) and our public schools continue to fail our future generations. However, City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and her band of left-wing radicals are more concerned about Christopher Columbus. Apparently his statue at Columbus Circle offends her. Personally, I think that traditional American values, democracy and free markets offend her; so why shouldn’t Columbus?
The notion of taking historic figures, many of whom lived many centuries ago, like the Italian-American hero mentioned above, and holding them to current moral standards is not only absurd, it’s an affront to the First Amendment and every brave soul who has fought for it. Practically the entire world since the beginning of modern civilization brutally enslaved their enemies and those they conquered; it is a part of world history. Taking down statues and trying to erase history that some find offensive will not change it, but it will erode our Constitution and our culture. We should be proud of how far we have come in eradicating repugnant practices such as slavery and never forget the sacrifices in blood and treasure so many Americans made to do so.
As a proud Italian-American, I revere the extraordinary accomplishments of Christopher Columbus. Lest we ever forget, his discoveries ultimately led to the greatest nation ever known, which became the leader of the free world and is now more than ever a beacon of hope and freedom. Isn’t that something to celebrate and honor? Columbus was human and thus not perfect, but we must recognize that he lived according to the norms and mores of his time that were acceptable more than five hundred years ago. More importantly, however, his remarkable explorations changed the world for the better in unquantifiable ways. As the son of an Italian mother, I couldn’t be more proud of his courageous voyages and our shared Italian heritage, but as an American and a U.S. Marine, I’d give my life to protect our First Amendment rights. I understand that the Council Speaker finds this statue offensive but I among many others do not – and don’t our rights matter? Or should the whims of whomever is in power just prevail?
Our Mayor and Council Speaker should worry more about the job they were elected to do by spending more energy on solving the opioid epidemic, fixing our subways and crumbling infrastructure, reducing homelessness, creating jobs and helping our schools give our students the best education possible.
Michael Grimm represented the people of New York’s 11th and 13 districts in the U.S. House of Representatives.