Friday, October 06, 2006

Lyons-What Columbus Day does to Americans

The following Scott Richard Lyons op-ed is featured on today's web edition of ICT.

What Columbus Day does to Americans?
Posted: October 06, 2006
by: Scott Richard Lyons

And now we come to another Columbus Day, and with it the usual Italian-American parades and Native American protests. Things were no different last year in Syracuse, N.Y., which dutifully featured both. But Syracusans did seem pleased when a pretty young lady of Vietnamese descent, Myphuong Phan, was crowned the city's Miss Columbus Day 2005, According to Syracuse's Post-Standard, the committee that selected Phan for the honor did it because ''Columbus discovered America for everyone.''

Christopher Columbus: he's not just for Italians anymore! Many Americans would doubtless applaud this multicultural twist on Columbus, and some might even conclude that it lent an additional meaning to the day's festivities: namely, another welcomed step away from that grisly legacy known as the Vietnam War. Surely, if Columbus discovered America for Phan as much as anyone else, there's a bit less incentive to concern ourselves with nagging unpleasantries like napalm or My Lai.

Of course, that wouldn't change the fact that the Vietnam War was waged in precisely the same imperialist spirit that Columbus represents, whether we call it stopping the spread of communism, opening up new markets, or discovering the New World. In the cases of both Vietnam and the Americas - and here we can quietly mention Iraq as well - the sovereignty, intelligence and humanity of people who inhabited invaded lands was considered a moot point by ''liberators'' who presumed to know best and acted accordingly. In such cases, you can be certain that the deaths of Natives will always exceed those of the invaders, and Native life will inevitably be more difficult in the aftermath. full op ed


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