Every school child knows that in 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered America. We celebrate it every year with a holiday, it's taught in history classes, and it's generally regarded as a landmark moment in human history.
Except that Columbus didn't discover America. And he was wholly unworthy of the reverence and honor we bestow upon him today. For starters, Leif Ericson and his Vikings visited America centuries before Columbus, not to mention the millions of Native Americans already living there. Secondly, he was actually one of the last people on the Santa Maria to see (or "discover") the land the ships were headed for, but lied about it to the Spanish monarchy. When they arrived, the dude totally lied again about where he'd hit dry ground; he set out for India, and dubbed the American natives "Indians" to cover his lie.
During his explorations of the "New World," he engaged or aided in kidnapping, enslavement, murder, theft, maiming, tyranny and the rape of countless Natives. And yet this is the man we honor as "discovering" the land our proud nation rests upon.
John Oliver's Last Week Tonight hit on this topic on a recent broadcast with the show's regular "How is This Still a Thing?" segment, and it's pretty brilliant.
Still, despite his crimes and false claims of discovery, Columbus did do something historically important: his efforts are responsible for creating the first lasting contact and trade between Europe and the Americas. It's not hyperbole to say that for good or ill, he's responsible for altering the entire course of American history.
But is he worthy of a holiday? As the video suggests, there are many more deserving individuals in society and throughout history we could celebrate instead.
Maybe it's time to write your Senator and ask that Columbus Day be eliminated.