Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Columbus Day 2

   Italian Americans celebrated their culture and heritage at the 69th Annual Columbus Day Parade yesterday morning in New York City (in an amazing coincidence, Christopher Columbus was also Italian). Thousands lined the streets along 44th to 72nd Street. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota all marched in the parade, along with more than 35,000 other participants. The West Point marching band, who are federal employees, were scheduled to lead the parade but were barred from marching due to the current government shutdown, and being non-essential personnel.
   Chicago's 61st annual Columbus Day parade was held yesterday as well, proceeding down Columbus and Balbo Drives, then north to Monroe. The theme was "The Year of Italian Culture in the United States," showcasing the traditions of Italy. The Mafia had their own float. The Columbus Day Parade Queen, Victoria Martello, was front and center along with her majestic court.
   San Francisco doesn’t have a Columbus Day Parade. They celebrated their 145th Annual Italian Heritage Parade on Sunday.
   Hawaii, Alaska, and South Dakota are the three U.S. states that do not recognize Columbus Day at all. My state of California is considering dumping the holiday as well.

   Wikipedia tells us: “The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded by the Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882, it was named in honor of the navigator Christopher Columbus. Originally serving as a mutual benefit society to low-income immigrant Catholics, it developed into a fraternal service organization dedicated to providing charitable services, promoting Catholic education and actively defending Catholicism in various nations.”
   Fraternal service organization means it’s kind of like a fraternity, you know, like on college campuses, where guys go around playing grab ass with each other, have food fights, toga parties, and are on Double Secret Probation, like in “Animal House.” Sounds like fun!
   Wikipedia also tells us: “A fraternity (Latin frater : "brother") is a brotherhood, although the term sometimes connotes a distinct or formal organization and sometimes a secret society. A fraternity (or fraternal organization) is an organized society of men associated together in an environment of companionship and brotherhood; dedicated to the intellectual, physical, and social development of its members.”
   Well, that doesn’t sound as much fun as they had at Delta House.
   Be that as it may, it is well understood by our friends on the right side of the political spectrum that our 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was a week-kneed (literally) left wing, pinko liberal. He was probably a blue jay enthusiast as well. And we all know it was FDR who was responsible for doing such crazy things as pulling us out of the Republican Great Depression by putting the country back to work, reigned in Wall Street, and improving it’s infrastructure by utilizing such programs as the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (passed 5 days after being inaugurated), The Banking Act of 1933 (often called the Glass–Steagall Act),    which established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (which insures the money we have in banks), and which limited commercial bank securities activities and affiliations between commercial banks and securities firms (this provision of the Act was repealed by Bill Clinton, thank you very much, which helped precipitate the 2007/2008 financial crisis). Roosevelt crazily pumped money into the economy through agencies like the Public Works Administration, and the Works Progress Administration (like Barack Obama did at the beginning of his first term before bowing to Republican supplied pressure to cut spending). What a wild man!
   “Roosevelt is dead. His policies may live on, but we're in the process of doing something about that as well.” -Rush Limbaugh
   Oh yeah, Roosevelt was responsible for the United States winning World War II as well. 
   That he got right. 
   In 1937 he also let lobbyists from the Knight of Columbus talk him into making October 12th, “Columbus Day,” a federal holiday, just like “Washington’s Birthday.” He wasn’t even a Catholic! (he was Episcopalian)
   Since 1970 the holiday has been fixed to the 2nd Monday of October, so federal employees can be assured of a 3 day weekend, the lazy freeloading bastards (just kidding. Most federal employees are on furlough right now anyway due to the government shutdown, except for members of Congress of course, the freeloading bastards), which is why it was celebrated this year on the 14th. 
   Granted, the Knight’s wern’t the first one to celebrate Columbus’s arrival in the Americas on October 12th, 1492. Americans have celebrated his arrival since before the Revolutionary War. 
   “In 1792, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event. During the four hundredth anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic rituals were framed around themes such as support for war, citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress.” -Wikipedia     
   The capital of our nation was named after Columbus (the District of Columbia), as was the state capital of Ohio and South Carolina. Guess who the Columbia River was named after.
   If you still watch broadcast television (some do), and you watch shows on CBS like “Under the Dome,” you’re watching on the Columbia Broadcasting System.
   Columbus was even a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church in 1866 (they take care of their own, those Catholics).
   Referring to the Wikipedia quote above, no one I know knows what is implied by the term “citizenship boundaries.” If it were applied in today’s world I’d say it was the 1 per-center’s belief that the other 99 existed to supply it with more luxuries, money, and goods. I don’t know what it meant back then. Do you? It probably meant the same thing back then. I’m sure there was a 1 or 2 percent in 1892. 
   Patriotism is fine as far as it goes. It can be used as a weapon against the government’s own citizen’s, like when George W Bush stirred up the American populace after 9/11 into a patriotic fervor so it wouldn’t be hard to maintain the troop levels he already had, and to recruit more to send to Afghanistan and Iraq, two completely unnecessary engagements. 
   “Importance of loyalty to the nation” goes hand in hand with the above, I suppose. 
   “Celebrating social progress?” I’m all for that... when there is actual social progress to celebrate.
   But Christopher Columbus didn’t embody any of those ideals. One gentleman in the parade clip above admitted that Columbus may have had a dark side. I should say he did.
   In my opinion he was one of the most vile, detestable, sociopathic, megalomaniacal, sadists that has ever existed on this planet. Right up with the Spanish Inquisition, the witch burners, Hitler, Stalin, Zedong,  Pol Pot, Pizarro, Cortés, and Sean Hannity.
   I’ll say this for Columbus though... he was a good sailor and Karnöffel player.
   Unlike Hannity.
   Back on the morning of October 12th, 1492, Columbus thought he was in Japan, which is strange because the people he found there, the Taínos, didn’t look Japanese at all!
   The indigenous people he found were peaceful, inquisitive, and friendly. Entirely innocent, they made the mistake of wearing gold ornaments in their ears. 
   His entry in his journal for that day included this: “Many of the men I have seen have scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how this happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands come to San Salvador to capture them; they defend themselves the best they can. I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves. They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them. I think they can very easily be made Christians, for they seem to have no religion. If it pleases our Lord, I will take six of them to Your Highnesses when I depart, in order that they may learn our language."      He also noticed they were devoid of anything resembling modern weaponry, placing the idea of subjugation in his mind.
   Columbus explored the northeast coast of Cuba, and the northern coast of Hispaniola landing there on December 5th. The natives allowed him to leave 39 men behind to found the settlement of La Navidad at the site of present day  Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Haiti. He ran aground on Christmas day, and the Santa Maria had to be abandoned. He took some of the natives prisoner and continued on the northern coast in the Nina until he hooked up with the Pinta on January 6th. On January 15th he began his journey back to Spain.
   Of the 10 to 25 natives Columbus had taken, only 7 or 8 survived the voyage.
   He was received as a hero back in Spain. He displayed several indigenous people, and what gold he had found to the court, as well as the previously unknown tobacco plant, the pineapple fruit, the turkey, the hammock... and syphilis.  
   The Pope at the time, Alexander VI, took it upon himself to divide the “newly discovered lands” between Spain and Portugal, a decision France and England disputed a smidgeon. 
   Columbus would make 3 more voyages to “The New World,” the last in disgrace. 
   On his second voyage he came back with 17 ships and armed to the teeth. 

To be continued.

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