In Chicago, they came for Columbus in the dead of night. They cut him down and hauled him off without so much as a “farewell, we hardly knew ye.”
Columbus did not discover America. He did not “Sail the Ocean Blue in 1492” to prove the earth was round. He was after fortune and glory and was determined to get it no matter who stood in his way.
He sailed with the worst bunch of cutthroats and thieves — kidnapped from jail and forced to crew his three ships. His most notable accomplishment was in writing a travel book about his voyage that swept Europe like wildfire and fired the imaginations of a generation of explorers, proselytizers, fortune hunters, and genocidal killers.
Certainly part of his undeserved fame was his political appeal to Italian-Americans who claimed him as their own. But if we were to weigh his accomplishments against his sins, Christopher Columbus does not emerge as a historical figure to admire have statues in his honor.
But, we don’t honor the historical Columbus, we honor the myth — a common practice in world history that nobody seems to have complained about until now. After all, if Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar — murderous conquerors, the Hitlers of their time — can have statues all over the place honoring them, surely we can honor Christopher Columbus and acknowledge his role in opening up a large part of the planet that had previously been unavailable.
So it’s sad to learn that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered the statue of Christopher Columbus, an iconic city landmark in Grant Park, unceremoniously removed.
Workers arrived under cover of darkness early Friday to remove a Christopher Columbus statue from Chicago’s Grant Park – a week after rioters clashed with city police as they attempted to tear the statue down.
The statue was being removed partly to de-escalate tensions between protesters and police as unrest continues in the nation’s third-largest city, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot made the decision to remove the statue — as well as another Columbus one in Little Italy earlier Thursday, according to FOX 32 in Chicago.
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— Jonathan Ballew (@JCB_Journo) July 24, 2020
Naturally. the mob is pleased with itself for forcing the mayor to do their bidding.
The statue was removed around 3 a.m. Friday after hours of tense arguments between proponents of its removal and supporters of the statue, FOX 32 reported.
“This statue coming down is because of the effort of Black and Indigenous activists who know the true history of Columbus and what he represents,” neighbor Stefan Cuevas-Caizaguano told the station.
I suppose that’s one way to look at it. Another way would be to accuse Lightfoot of rank cowardice in the face of threats.
How else would you describe the mayor’s actions? If she was proud of the decision to erase history, she would have had a ceremony and invited all the activists to participate. Instead, city workers showed up at 3:00 a.m. and began to dismantle the statue when no one was looking.
That statue had seen a lot of history. Riots, protests, speeches — Barack Obama spoke on the night of his election not far from that statue as a million people listened.
The mob cares little for history, so Columbus had to go. But while they celebrate, the rest of us will contemplate what we’re losing.