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Words I never thought I’d write. A lifelong Big Apple advocate who’s shared my optimism in these pages through our worst days — after 9/11 and throughout the pandemic — I now see little to no hope of rescuing our socio-political culture from its decline into nihilistic lunacy.
This week, New York City public schools abolished Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples’ Day — a move that offends me less as an Italian American than as an American.
Banning Columbus is not about addressing the explorer’s wrongs, which have been no secret to any educated person for at least 50 years. It’s undeniable that his “discovery” of America led to cruel subjugation of Native Americans. But it also opened the door to a New World that people around the globe came to envy for its humanistic culture, material abundance and however-imperfect embrace of individual liberty. If Columbus “discovered” America, canceling him is about canceling America.
What’s more, Columbus committed his crimes against humanity over five centuries ago, when slaughter and slavery were the way of much of the world. And yet, our city celebrates criminals who committed their heinous deeds in much more recent memory.
Take, for example, Oscar Lopez Rivera, who was invited by our City Council to lead the Puerto Rican Day Parade in 2017 — just 25 years after helming the terrorist organization FALN, which launched more than 100 bombings on US soil.
Or early 20th century black separatist Marcus Garvey, who wanted to repatriate black Americans to Liberia. He consorted with the Ku Klux Klan on how to achieve it. He was so nuts that fellow radical W.E.B. Du Bois condemned him as “the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America and in the world.” Garvey blamed “dirty Jews” for a fraud conviction that sent him to prison — a crime for which former President Barack Obama declined to pardon him.
But in our looney-tunes town, Garvey could do no wrong. Thanks to city bureaucrats, his name adorns a Harlem park and a Brooklyn housing project.
Fact: Many of our city’s leaders really, truly, do not like this country at all — from its “inequity” to its health care to its fast food. And they’ve seized control of the microphone like Third World guerrillas who breach the palace defenses.
Our bureaucrat class seethes with thinly concealed, sneering contempt for citizens of European — and Asian — descent. Which is why the imbeciles at the Department of Education nixed Columbus Day on the new school calendar and replaced it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day — even though the city is still home to at least 800,000 Italian Americans, its largest ethnic group according to the US census.
In our corridors of learning, the howling minority rules.
Not even Italian-American Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Italian-American Mayor Bill de Blasio, who are supposed to be in charge of city public schools, could save poor Columbus from cancellation.
De Blasio later criticized the move as “arbitrary” and claimed that neither he nor schools chancellor Meisha Ross Porter was consulted on it.
Cuomo, too, threw up his hands: They didn’t tell me! Neither did anyone else know, certainly not teachers who’ve been effectively on strike during the COVID-19 pandemic while collecting full pay for fourteen months.
Back in 2017, I wrote that the true goal of a campaign to remove Columbus monuments and other tainted national heroes was to repudiate “the legitimacy of the United States of America itself.”
New York’s economy will survive the pandemic. Real estate and Broadway will rebound.
But right now, I can’t get over the feeling that the city I love regards me, and millions of others who still believe in America, as chopped liver. New York City is so bent to the prevailing progressive winds that reversing the tide seems hopeless.
Woke betide us.
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