Should the U.S. remove statues of Christopher Columbus? | The Tylt

Should the U.S. remove statues of Christopher Columbus?

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue... pillaged the land he found, enslaved the people he encountered and orchestrated mass genocide. It doesn't take a genius to see why many people are calling for statues of Christopher Columbus to be removed from public areas, saying the statues glorify Columbus and his crimes. Others argue removing the statues would hardly atone for the atrocities committed and is tantamount to erasing history. What do you think? 

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In Nov. 2018, Los Angeles became the next city to take a side in this debate. The city hid a bronze statue of Christopher Columbus from view during its inaugural celebration of Indigenous People's Day. Just over a month later, the city of Los Angeles decided it was time to remove the structure from its home in Grand Park completely.

Los Angeles Magazine's Pamela Avila reported on comments from Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell:

'It’s a natural next step of eliminating the false narrative that Columbus was a benign discoverer who helped make this country what it is,' O’Farrell says over the phone. 'His statue and his image is really representative of someone who committed atrocities and helped initiate the greatest genocide ever recorded in human history, so the fact that his statue is coming down is the next step in the natural progression.'

Some are even calling for the statue to be deaccessioned, which would mean removing it from the county's civic arts portfolio. 

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Many people celebrated the action taken by L.A.'s city council, but not everyone welcomed the news: 

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In early 2018, the city council of San Jose, CA also voted to remove a statue of Columbus from the lobby of its city hall. After being vandalized twice, the statue clearly caused more strife among the people of San Jose than pride in Columbus's supposed contributions. This is what the statue meant to the groups calling for its removal, according to the Hill's Morgan Gstalter:

'A symbol of genocide,' that glorified European colonialism and violence against Native Americans after Columbus's 1492 voyage to America.
#DontEraseHistory

But for some critics, taking down tributes to Columbus—or any other historical figure for that matter—neither compensates for his crimes nor makes any significant progress in solving the centuries-long consequences. As one opinion writer for USA Today puts it:

These symbolic changes are a cheap and easy way to compensate people for centuries of mistreatment, and they might make us feel momentarily virtuous when a plaque comes down or a street sign is changed. 
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In the fall of 2017, a statue of Columbus located in New York's Central Park was defaced. This instance was not the first of its kind and shows the emotions Columbus' likeness evokes in people. The New York Times's Sarah Maslin Nir and Jeffery C. Mays reported that in response to the vandalism:

Mayor Bill de Blasio convened a commission to review of the city’s iconography for possible removal, including images of Columbus, whose 1492 voyage to the Caribbean, historians say, was at the grave cost of the indigenous people there.

Two weeks prior to this incident, another statue of Columbus was vandalized in the Queens area. According to NBC New York:

The vandals had used stencils to spray the words 'Don't honor genocide, take it down.'

Consistent vandalism reflects the passion surrounding the topic. Tributes to Columbus do nothing but perpetuate the idea that he is a heroic figure who paved the way for America. This country exists in spite of Columbus's atrocities, and taking down his statues is a very minimal first step towards paying reparations to the peoples he has wronged. 

#DontEraseHistory

The country can't change its past, but it can take action to reflect that past more accurately. Some say there's a compromise to be found when it comes to statues of Columbus and other controversial historical figures: plaques can be placed near or on the statues to explain controversies surrounding their existence.

In early 2018, a New York City commission chose this route for one statue in Columbus Circle. ABC 7 New York's Candace McCowan reports that after a 90-day review:

The commission released a report recommending that most of the statues that came under scrutiny, which some consider symbols of hate, should remain.
But when it comes to the Christopher Columbus statue, a historical marker will be added.
The city will also add a new monument to honor indigenous people.
Other controversial statues around the city will have markers added to give additional context.

Collectively, the people of this country can still stay true to history–the good and the bad. Erasing it will benefit no one. 

FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Should the U.S. remove statues of Christopher Columbus?
A festive crown for the winner
#TakeDownColumbus
#DontEraseHistory