Yesterday was Columbus Day. As you know, Columbus Day is an arbitrarily assigned national holiday which serves as a tribute to a guy — who wasn’t American, or named Columbus in his native tongue — who accidentally “discovered” a land mass 32 times the size of his homeland while in search of enough not-land to get him to a bunch of tiny islands that would’ve been closer had he turned left instead of right when he first got started. A land mass that had already been populated for who knows how many hundreds or thousands of years when he got there.
As most even casually curious historians above the age of 12 or so are aware, Christoforo Colombo’s mistake became the catalyst for several centuries’ worth of exploitation, enslavement and genocide.
That we choose to honor that particular historical milestone is as darkly absurd, and as perfectly American, as it gets. That we couldn’t commit to giving it a specific day, year in and year out, might say something about the collective American conscience. But still it persists, respun into a powerful symbol of the indomitability of the human spirit by the pervasive and persuasive forces of arrogance, cognitive dissonance and historical revisionism.