Survey shows most Americans support celebrating Columbus Day

| October 7, 2017 | 5 Comments
Columbus Day

People celebrate Columbus Day in New York City Oct. 10, 2016. CNS photo/Justin Lane, EPA

A new survey shows that almost six in 10 Americans, or 57 percent, believe that celebrating Columbus Day is a “good idea,” while only 29 percent oppose the holiday.

Almost two-thirds of respondents who said they were Catholic, or 65 percent, expressed a “favorable” or “very favorable” opinion of Columbus and the national holiday that honors him. Overall, the poll found that Americans support Columbus and the observance of Columbus Day by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

The survey results were released Oct. 3 by the Knights of Columbus, which is based in New Haven. The Marist Poll conducted the survey, funded in partnership with the Knights of Columbus.

Columbus Day is a national holiday in many countries in the Americas and elsewhere to officially celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas Oct. 12, 1492. The federal holiday in the U.S. this year is Oct. 9.

The survey showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans — 76 percent — believe that Columbus and other historical figures should be judged by the standards of conduct of their own lifetimes, as opposed to modern standards. Sixteen percent disagreed. Fifty-six percent view Columbus either “favorably” or “very favorably”; half as many, or 28 percent, take a negative view of the navigator.

Accusations by some historians that the Italian explorer opened the Americas to enslavement, genocide and “cultural destruction” have led some U.S. cities to cancel local Columbus Day parades and other commemorations and rename the holiday Indigenous Peoples’ Day. New York City still has one of the nation’s largest Columbus Day parades.

Father Michael McGivney, a candidate for sainthood, who founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882, chose to name the organization after Columbus “because he was a widely acclaimed Catholic figure from American history during a time when Catholics were frequently discriminated against and marginalized,” said a news release from the Knights announcing the results of the survey.

“The Knights of Columbus joins the vast majority of Americans in celebrating Columbus Day,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, the organization’s CEO. “He was a man ahead of his time, who brought two worlds together and began the process that led to the founding of this country. It is a testament to Americans’ commitment to a fair reading of history that the explorer’s popularity has endured despite the unfair and hateful attacks by British propagandists, the Ku Klux Klan and revisionist academics.”

The Marist Poll conducted the survey of 1,224 adults Sept. 11-13. Survey participants were 18 years or older and residing in the continental United States. They were reached through randomly selected landline or mobile numbers. Live interviewers recorded their responses.

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Category: U.S. & World News

  • Mao Pmn


    • Charles C.

      Let us not forget to thank Islam for Columbus’ discovery of America. Without Muslims, he would have never set sail and Europeans might not have found America for another 100 years.

      What was Columbus doing when he set sail? Looking for a trade route to India. Why was he looking for a trade route to India? There was a perfectly decent one overland through what is now Iran and Pakistan. Well, the route itself was good, but merchants traveling it could pretty much count on being robbed, kidnapped, killed, or enslaved by the Muslims who believed it was perfectly all right to rob “infidels.” It became unbearable, so Columbus set off.

      Who says Muslims didn’t contribute to American history?

      • Dominic Deus

        Dominic Deus here. I believe it’s pretty well agreed by historians that this was a highly personal (and rather poorly thought out) quest for personal advancement in the eyes of European monarchy and the Papacy. In the end, he “discovered” nothing, didn’t know where he was headed, and didn’t know his location when he arrived. Whether or not he had much responsibility for the subsequent forced and often brutal colonization is debatable. At worst, he was a minor tyrant who caused indigenous people to suffer greatly. At best, he was a bumbling navigator who would have been lost at sea without his mapmaker.

        The subsequent enslavement of the New World was not Columbus’ fault. He was never that important. He was no exemplar of particular evil but even less so of good. He just wasn’t and isn’t anyone who should have an American national holiday. As far as I know, he doesn’t have a Portuguese or Italian one.

        • Charles C.

          If you trust Wiki (and for things like this I’m willing to), you’ll learn that Columbus Day (or Discovery Day, or whatever they call it) is celebrated in:

          Costa Rica

          But on to more serious things. Motivations.

          What I have found is that there were several motivations. Yes, he wanted a title out of the whole expedition. That’s a pretty common motivation even today; politicians, athletes, performers, etc. “Tooting your own horn,” if done properly, is almost a requirement for success these days. And what could it have possibly been like more than 500 years ago? I just don’t see self-aggrandizement as a terrible flaw contaminating the man and his efforts.

          Besides, you need to go at least a step further. Why would his trip win favor in the eyes of the kings and the Pope? He wouldn’t have gotten anywhere offering to climb Mt. Everest.

          Another motivation was gold. Historian Carol Delaney writes:

          “Everybody knows that Columbus was trying to find gold, but they don’t know what the gold was for: to fund a crusade to take Jerusalem back from the Muslims before the end of the world. A lot of people at the time thought that the apocalypse was coming because of all the signs: the plague, famine, earthquakes and so forth. And it was believed that before the end, Jerusalem had to be back in Christian hands so that
          Christ could return in judgment.”

          Ms. Delaney writes about another motivation: evangelization:

          “He was very much interested in evangelizing. He wrote against the idea that the natives could just be baptized and automatically become Christian. Rather, they really needed to be instructed about the Christian faith before being converted. He wrote to the pope requesting that good priests be sent to provide this instruction and even left money in his will for it.”

          Let’s look at the best thing that you can say about him, that he was a bumbling navigator who would have been lost without his mapmaker.

          As I understand it, the scientific experts of the day believed that there was only water west of Europe until the shores of Asia. There was disagreement over how much water; it turned out that there was much more than Columbus believed.

          What good would a mapmaker have done him, even a perfect one? Columbus knew he had to go west, and he went west. He couldn’t turn left at the third red farm house, there was only water, farm houses and other landmarks were in short supply.

          The scientists of the day told him that if he kept going west and found land, that land would be what we call Asia. He believed the scientists. To criticize him for discovering the fact that there was land between Europe and Asia seems overly-critical.

          He was a great organizer and promoter, an excellent leader who managed to keep his men’s morale at an acceptable level, he was persistent and brave, and overcame great trials. Traveling into the complete unknown with no support system is something that people aren’t willing to do today.

          Gutsy move, Chris.

      • Dominic Deus

        Dominic Deus here.

        The banditry along the Silk Road was not driven by religion; it was driven by ambition and the pursuit of wealth. Pretty much like President Trump.

        The Persian Empire and the various ruling factions in what is now Pakistan and India benefited greatly from the trade and supported it. Of course, there was always a complex brew of tribal alliances, bribes, and renegade profiteers who claimed a piece of the action based more on the philosophy that whatever they could take was theirs. In other words, not religion but greed. In other words, the Trump Organization.

        The Quran is silent on the Silk Road, as it predated the route by centuries, so Islam, as revealed by Muhammad, is pretty much of the hook on this one. There is no doubt in my mind there were enterprising Muslim raiders who were acting out of greed but saying God told them it was alright. I can’t think of a way to analogize this to Trump since he eschews religion but I think it’s safe to say there are plenty of Christian raiders and bandits in the world, even today. Some of them speak from pulpits. 😉