July 21, 2009

Change Columbus Day or Thanksgiving?

In Columbus Apologists Obsess Over Past, someone named Paige wrote:Are there any organizations that promote changing Columbus Day/Thanksgiving to a holiday that can be celebrated by all Americans wholeheartedly? Having a holiday to honor this man is just as disgusting as having Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill.My response:

I believe some people want to change Columbus Day to Native American Day or something similar. I think there's a movement to make the day after Thanksgiving a Native American Day. The following article has more info on that:Day after Thanksgiving is Native American Heritage Day

The designation is for this year only, but groups plan to lobby for an annual commemoration day.

November 28, 2008

For the first time, federal legislation has set aside the day after Thanksgiving--for this year only--to honor the contributions American Indians have made to the United States.

Frank Suniga, a descendant of Mescalero Apache Indians who lives in Oregon, said he and others began pushing in 2001 for a national day that recognizes tribal heritage.

Suniga, 79, proposed his idea to a cultural committee that is part of the Portland-based Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. The organization took on the cause of a commemorative day, as did the National Congress of American Indians and other groups.

Congress passed legislation this year designating the day as Native American Heritage Day, and President Bush signed it last month.
But no one's talking about changing Thanksgiving itself. Doing that would be about as impossible as changing Christmas or July 4th. I doubt white Americans will ever forgo their myths of brave Pilgrims taming the wilderness and civilizing the Indians.

Too many holidays?

When you think about it, there's a lot of redundancy in these holidays. Columbus Day: White man discovered "New World." Thanksgiving: White men founded important colony. July 4th: White men broke away from forefathers. President's Day: White man led new country.

I think we get the message from any one or two of these holidays. White men founded America! America is great! White men are great!

Do we really need to celebrate Columbus Day when we celebrate Thanksgiving? Or Thanksgiving when we celebrate July 4th? Isn't the the message kind of the same in each case? Our (white) ancestors founded a great country! Let's congratulate ourselves because we're their descendants! Hurrah!

If we were actually celebrating everyone who made this country great--not just white Anglo-Saxon Protestants--we'd replace some of these old holidays with new holidays. Native American Day, for sure. Maybe Spanish-American Day to celebrate the people who "settled" a third of US territory. Juneteenth to celebrate the emancipation of last remaining slaves--the moment the US began to live up to its ideals. Ellis Island or Immigrant Day to celebrate the waves of immigrants who contributed their many strengths to this country.

Don't look for any of these holidays soon. What the white majority of Americans want to celebrate is themselves, not the reality of America. Celebrating these new holidays would mean diminishing the self-importance of Anglos in American culture. It would mean acknowledging the importance of blacks, Latinos, Asians, Indians, and others to the American experience.

For more on the subject, see Buchanan:  US "Built by White Folks."

P.S. I don't know if the people seeking these changes are organized enough to have their own organizations, Paige. I'm guessing not.


Stephen said...

I'd certainly like to see thanksgiving dchanged, the pilgrims were just uptight morons; master race my (censored).

Stephen said...

Oh and don't be too hard on Andy Jackson, he might have been a genocidial maniac who sold out the people who fought with but he did makes Cracked's 'most badass president' list:


"When the 1828 election rolled around, a lot of people were terrified when they heard Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson was running. If you're wondering how a guy we're calling a bad ass got such a lame nickname, it's because he used to carry a hickory cane around and beat people senseless with it, and if you're wondering why he did that, it's because he was a fucking lunatic.

Former Democratic Senator and Secretary of the Treasurey Albert Gallatin feared a Jackson presidency because of his "habitual disregard of laws and constitutional provisions." Or in other words, the man was a loose canon--17th Century Washigton's answer to Martin Riggs. Sure, he probably didn't have an irate black lieutenant to answer to, or a weary partner who was too old for this shit, but he most certainly had a death wish.

How do we know? Well, despite everyone's best efforts, Jackson was elected to the top office, and when he wasn't busy shaping the Presidency as we know it today, you could find him out back dueling. In case you haven't been to the 18th century lately, this unmanly sounding activity actually involves standing across from an armed man and shooting at him while he in turn shoots at you. The number of duels that Jackson took part in varies depending on what source you consult; some say 13, while others rank the number somewhere in the 100's, both of which are entirely too many times for a reasonable human being to stand in front of someone who is strying to kill them with a loaded gun.

On one occasion, he challenged a man named Charles Dickinson to a duel, (the reason behind it wasn't important, not to us and certainly not to Jackson), and Jackson was even kind enough to give Dickinson the first shot. We're gonna go ahead and repeat that: In a duel with pistols, Jackson politely volunteers to be shot at first. Dickinson happily obliged and shot Jackson, who proceeded to shake it off like it was a bee sting. When Jackson returned the favor, Dickinson was not so lucky, and that's why his face isn't on the twenty. The bullet, by the by, remained in Jackson's body for 19 years because, we assume, Jackson knew that time spent removing the bullets would just fall under the general category of "time not dueling," Jackson's least favorite category."

Unknown said...

Thank you for your thorough answer! I'll try to get the word out about the proposed Native American day this November

Trixie said...

Hey not all of us WASPs are opposed to changing the holidays! I'd support it in a heartbeat. My kids need more relevant reasons NOT to be in school :) - reasons that apply to the here and now in a multicultural world. I am so sick of "holidays" being watered down to nothing more than excuses to shop sales, go to amusement parks, or grouse about kids being out of school while you still have to work! It would be nice if our holidays were something that could be meaningfully celebrated and truly honored. I love the idea of celebrating the contributions of a wide range of people in our communities. In an age of virtual friendships and digital connections, it would offer a personal connection to many in our community who go unrecognized for their contributions.