Monday, October 14, 2002
I'm all for an Italian American holiday. It could be October 4, not far away from the current Columbus Day. Name it for Francis Bernardone, Saint Francis of Assissi who preached purity and peace, served the sick, cleaned churches, and sent food to thieves. A wonderful, wonderful man, and a patron saint of Italy.
Currently, instead, we have Columbus Day. Columbus's men, under his direction, used Native Americans as dog food. "They would even take Indians from place to place with them -- as dog food -- as a kind of mobile dog food. When they got to where they were going for the night, [they would] allow the dogs to tear one of them apart and eat them." This according to Bartolemy de Las Casas, an acquantiance of Columbus and a European (this history was written by the "winners"). By 1555, sixty years after Columbus first arrived in Haiti, there were no Indians left. From a population of three million to zero. Columbus enslaved Indians, committed genocide against them (neither of these is in dispute), and now we have a holiday named after him.
A holiday named after Saint Francis, like the unofficial one we have for Saint Patrick, would be a good thing. And a much better thing.
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