Guy Farmer: How Portland celebrated Columbus Day

Mobs of angry street people in Portland, Oregon, celebrated Columbus Day — they call it Indigenous People’s Day — last Monday by tearing down statues of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Yes, really. All of the city’s Christopher Columbus statues came down earlier.

So I want to wish a belated Happy Columbus Day to my loyal readers, who probably suffer from “systemic racism,” like me. I hereby confess that I flew an American flag on Columbus Day, which makes me a “racist,” by definition, despite my lifelong defense of civil rights and equal rights.

Portland police, who are being de-funded by the city’s “progressive” mayor and city council, stood by last Monday as destructive mobs tore down statues and set local businesses and government buildings on fire, as they’ve been doing every night for more than three months. Similar random looting and violence has been occurring in downtown Seattle, my old hometown, where the mayor allowed violent rioters to establish an “autonomous zone” that lasted until a couple of people were shot to death. No wonder my Seattle family is looking at investment property in Idaho.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Columbus Day celebrations were “scaled back” this year and “fewer Christopher Columbus statues remain standing after protesters (a polite name for rioters) toppled or defaced some of them.” These allegedly “peaceful” protesters say Columbus “should be reviled because of his association with atrocities against Indigenous peoples.” On the other hand, the Journal continued, “many Italian-Americans view the Genoa-born seafarer as a symbol of their Italian heritage and American identity.” Unsurprisingly, there are two sides to this story.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, Italian-American columnist Alessandra Bocchi argued that “Columbus Day stands for diversity.” “Columbus Day doesn’t honor a secular saint,” she wrote. “It’s more akin to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which honors another flawed man who symbolizes a minority’s triumph over discrimination.” Surely, that will rile up the politically correct “cancel culture” people who are re-writing American history to cancel or downplay the vital contributions of our Founding Fathers, who were white males — and that’s a fact, like it or not.

Most, if not all, great people have feet of clay. Jesus Christ may have been a perfect human being, but I can’t think of anyone else besides Mother Teresa who lived a near-perfect life. Some great people who are described by adoring fans and media as paragons of virtue turn out to be something less than role models for younger generations. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt come to mind, not because they were Democrats but because they were flawed human beings.

I’m not sure why those Portland rioters tore down Abraham Lincoln’s statue. After all, he was the Great Emancipator who freed the slaves. Perhaps he once said or did something that offended someone. Who knows?

Meanwhile, the “cancel culture” movement continues full speed ahead. Although President Trump has ordered an end to federal diversity and inclusion training programs that involve critical race theory, “race and sex scapegoating,” or unconscious bias, many federal bureaucrats are fighting the president’s executive order. Director General Carol Perez of the State Department’s Foreign Service recently extolled the virtues of unconscious bias training and said she hoped her efforts would “help improve the retention and equitable promotion of people of color.” Quotas, anyone?

Closer to home, UNR’s Department of Gender, Race and Identity is co-sponsoring a poetry event “designed to highlight themes of colonialism, body and gender identify … and the relationship between literature and liberation.” Any questions?

Message to Carol Wentzel: Thank you!

Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.

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