Leave the Columbus statues alone (Opinion)
"In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue / Now they want his statue down / In three big New Jersey towns."
The movement to take down statues in this country has made its way to the Christopher Columbus statues in West Orange, where Mayor Robert Parisi said in a video:
"Support for the monument does not change the facts. The legend of Columbus does not match the history and today, the man and statues or monuments celebrating his life are divisive and a symbol of hate and oppression and cannot remain as part of our community."
I say leave them alone.
When Parisi said "the legend of Columbus does not match the history," I would say the legend actually IS the history, based on what he means to those who want his statue to remain. Those wanting to take the statue down will also be divisive, since there are those who want it to remain up.
In this area, the Columbus statues means a lot to the Italian community. Like all nationalities who came to this country, they were not welcomed in. In fact the Italians were victims in the largest lynching in American history, which took place on March 14, 1891. The fact that Columbus was Italian and "discovered" America gave the Italians trying to fit into this country something to hold on to. It was a different time.
I remember growing up in Union City, the pride my grandparents and older relatives took in the Columbus Day parade, a parade one of the classic Soprano episodes focused on. One of my ex-father-in-law's biggest thrills was being accepted into the Knights Of Columbus, an organization for which I've done may comedy fundraisers.
Now, I have no love for Columbus, nor do I agree with the things he did in his life or if he did indeed discover America, but I know that there are a lot of people in New Jersey who would like to keep his statue up. I know that because I took over three hours on nonstop phone calls on the topic on my show Tuesday night. Not one caller wanted the statues to come down. I also posted a Twitter poll.
The Columbus statue, like many of the others that the "cancel culture" want down, are there because they represent their contribution to our history, not all of which is good. But we can learn from them if they remain. If we're going to vet everyone who has a statue then we must take them all down because no one is perfect.
If we're talking about tolerance, then we must tolerate the things in life and our neighborhood that we don't agree with but may mean something to someone else who lives here. Isn't that the true meaning of the word? Besides, don't we have so much more to deal with right now than whether or not we should be taking down statues?
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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