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Brown University Faculty Votes To Hijack History

An obsession with political correctness at American universities has rapidly become a national phenomenon in recent years. A few colleges have really taken it too far.

Brown University's faculty voted last week to rename Columbus Day "Fall Weekend" on the University's calendar, a move that apparently was in step with the wishes of students according to a poll by the college newspaper The Brown Daily Herald. The poll revealed a majority of students disapproved of continuing to call the holiday Columbus Day.

The decision came after weeks of pressure from student groups proposing change.

American University's Undergraduate Senate passed a similar resolution a few years ago declaring the holiday "Indigenous People's Day" instead.

Columbus Day is named of course after Christopher Columbus, the man incorrectly attributed with discovering North America. As we know today, Columbus was tied to the enslavement and abuse of native inhabitants of the West Indies. Columbus Day has been celebrated since 1971.
But really, Columbus Day? It seems strange that academics would be so willing to hijack history for the sake of an extremist obsession to purify it. Owning a history book doesn't give one the right to rewrite it, however. Columbus Day still exists as does U.S. history in its entirety - dark spots as well as bright.

The faculty might have instead used the day instead to ... oh, I dunno, teach? Since when is it an acceptable standard in American academia to ignore history instead of use its errors as a basis to teach and educate?

"Brown University made itself an example to the nation by carefully exploring its ties to the slave trade and using that process to promote greater understanding," Providence mayor David Cicilline, a 1983 graduate of Brown, said in a press release last week. But the decision to "simply erase the celebration of an incredibly significant moment in world history and Italian-American culture for the sake of political correctness does just the opposite," he added.

While Columbus might not be credited now with being the first person to discover America, many Italian-American organizations still credit Columbus, an Italian explorer, as a major historical influence on western civilization's introduction to a new part of the world.

Providence newspaper columnist Bob Kerr called the decision "detached," especially because of the large number of Italian descendants residing in Providence. Rush Limbaugh also opined on the decision, attacking the students who urged for the change.

One Brown student said Columbus is "undeserving of a holiday." Another said "what they teach us in elementary school is misleading - hero worshiping."

The decision was "a progressive step," he added.

I couldn't disagree more. The most feasible part of the students' argument is that Columbus wasn't deserving of the holiday in the first place. But what is certain is that the holiday is also is a yearly reminder of how far we've come. It provides a basis on which teachers can educate their students.

A much greater injustice is done in ignoring the sacrifices made at the hands of the ignorant. Their story deserves to be told, not swept under the rug and the best way to do that is for Columbus Day to remain untouched. It is not an elementary teacher's place to go all philosophical on an 8-year-old, and I don't think children are educated to idolize Columbus - at least I wasn't.

At a higher level of learning, the flaws of such individuals need to be observed and critiqued.

The decisions by both American University and Brown University were more accurately in step with those attempting to censor historical scars, and call it cliche, but those who ignore history are, indeed, destined to repeat it.

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