The effort to make Christopher Columbus a source of pride for Italian-Americans culminated in 1937 when Columbus Day was made a national holiday. It’s important, though, to recognize that this — like similar work on behalf of other groups — was connected to the “melting pot” myth that hailed the assimilation of immigrants into the general U.S. population with the understanding that the general population excluded African Americans (”Baltimore’s Columbus monuments drawn into debate as memorials fall around the country,” June 25).
Columbus, moreover, carries a burden that St. Patrick or Casimir Pulaski, for example, do not share. That is, Columbus appropriated land from indigenous people and took part in genocidal activities and in introducing race-based slavery to the western hemisphere. Surely there must be a historical character of Italian background more suitable to memorialize, in whom Italian Americans (and the rest of us) can feel some pride. I would suggest the Italian immigrant Arturo Toscanini who was among the greatest orchestral conductors of all time, not to mention a foremost anti-fascist.
Ed Morman, Baltimore
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