Video-Challenging Columbus Day on Democracy Now
The Democracy Now website has a video and audio file of an interview Amy Goodman did with Glenn Morris and Glenn Spagnuolo.
Description Monday is known as Columbus Day, which is supposed to commemorate the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the so-called "new world" in 1492. But the holiday has long caused anger amongst people of color, especially Native Americans, who object to honoring a man who opened the door to European colonization, the exploitation of native peoples and the slave trade. We talk to Glenn Morris of the American Indian Movement of Colorado and Glenn Spagnuolo of Progressive Italians Transforming the Columbus Day Holiday
From the Transcript
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Morris is a member of the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. He's an attorney and associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado, Denver. Glenn Spagnuolo is a member of Transform Columbus Day Alliance and the director of PITCH, that's Progressive Italians Transforming the Columbus Day Holiday. First, I asked them about the history of Columbus Day in the state of Colorado. This is Glenn Morris.
GLENN MORRIS: Columbus Day began -- most people don't know -- as a state holiday in Colorado in 1907. But what's more important for people to understand is the ideology behind Columbus Day and why there is a Columbus Day in the United States or in Colorado. And there's been a lot of discussion lately about Hugo Chavez at the United Nations, when he raised up Noam Chomsky's book, Hegemony or Survival.
And if we could begin a little bit by just reducing the terms “hegemony” and “ideology” to their simplest forms: if an ideology is a set of ideas that allows a nation or a people to describe reality in terms that are comfortable for them, but more importantly, that describes the world as it should be, and hegemony is driven by a national ideology that is so comprehensive that it becomes almost invisible, like water to fish or air to human beings, and in a sense then, we can understand Columbus Day as a hegemonic tool, the way that Chomsky uses the term, because it makes no historical sense to have a national holiday to Columbus in a country that he never visited, in a state that he never knew existed.
And so, we have to ask the very simple question: why does the holiday even exist? And it exists in part to advance a national ideology of celebrating invasion, conquest and colonialism. And the proponents of the Columbus Day holiday in Colorado and Columbus parades, and so on, make no bones about the fact that they're celebrating the colonization of the Americas and, in fact, have told us on several occasions, “Look, we're going to have this celebration. We're going to have these parades to Columbus. And let's get one thing straight,” they say to us. “This is not your country anymore. This is our country now. And you'd better get with the program.” So, for us, the celebration of Columbus, who was an African slave trader prior to coming to the Americas, then began the colonization of the Americas
To view the video, listen to the interview and view the transcript, click on the following link. Democracy Now interview