July 11, 2020

Columbus, an uncomfortable symbol 'made in Italy' | Culture



The leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, starred in a viral video last month to vindicate the feat of the Spanish caravels commanded by Christopher Columbus who came to the American continent in 1492 and boasted of "millennial people who have done much for humanity". "What other country can say that a new world was discovered by them?", He said in an act after October 12, Columbus Day. But on those same dates, in that "new world," the growing rejection towards the sailor became palpable. More and more cities have stopped celebrating Columbus Day to rename it Indigenous People's Day (more than 50, from Austin to San Francisco, passing through Denver or Cincinnati). The largest city in the US with its name, Columbus, in Ohio, has stopped considering it festive since this year. And a week ago Los Angeles removed the statue of the explorer labeling him as genocidal. New York saved his in Columbus Circle, but in 2017 he studied cataloging it as a "symbol of hatred", and in Baltimore some vandals destroyed a monument to the Genoese of more than 200 years.

Columbus and the conquest are sold worse and worse in the US, but if the focus is on Spanish pride, the conclusion is that for many Americans on foot this is a problem for Italians. In the public declarations and the analyzes of the last years, the Italianity of the sailor prevails and there are hardly any mentions to the Catholic Monarchs or the Kingdom of Castile.

When the battle for the statue of New York broke out, the mayor, Bill de Blasio, of Italian ascenders, stopped being invited to the Columbus Day parade. Because, to begin with, it was always an Italian celebration in the US. Declared a federal holiday in 1937, it served as recognition to the Italian-American community, victim for years of xenophobic crimes and criminalization by many politicians.

Discrimination

The Italian entities go out every year to defend the festivity, which began on October 12 but from the seventies it went to the second Tuesday of that month. "The party provided a sense of dignity, given the hostility and discrimination that many Italian immigrants, Italian American and Catholic citizens, faced. Less than 50 years before the proclamation of that party, 11 Italians suffered in New Orleans the biggest lynching in the history of the United States, "the National Italo-American Foundation said last month.

"That Columbus Day is an Italian celebration is another example of the bad business that the Spaniards did with the imperial adventure: they paid a high internal cost of economic, financial and political ruin, but their effects in America are often condemned or, as in the US, they are not even recognized, "laments Georgetown University professor Josep M. Colomer, author from the book Spain: the history of frustration.

The made in Italy he dominates the idea of ​​Columbus and the discovery in the imaginary of an important part of the Americans. For Daniel Ureña, president of the Hispanic Council, "is an image that has been consolidated over time in some areas largely by the limited efforts that Spain has made to defend its legacy and that his story is taken into account." Still is on time, adds Urena, of "correct this injustice with reality and with history. Spain should look with concern towards this current of opinion that seeks to undermine its legacy. " Following the rebirth of the "black legend" about Columbus, the Spanish consuls in the US will intensify their "pedagogical" work on the meaning of the Spanish heritage.

The battle for the figure of Columbus It is not easy in the United States, as it coexists with the revision of all those symbols of Confederate America that remember and honor the past of slavery in the country. Robert Borrero, president of the United Confederation of the Taibo People, expresses his opinion: "For me, Columbus is a symbol of genocide. We do not judge him with the current standards, and Bartolomé de las Casas and others protested in his time for those cruelties. " He adds: "The Italians, who were also very discriminated against, took it as a symbol of an achievement, but they have many other heroes to hold on to, they do not need Columbus."

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