Et Tu, Columbus?

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The decision by officials of the city of Columbus, Ohio to jettison its namesake’s public holiday without even a public discussion spotlights disturbing trends in our country.

To begin with, there’s the obvious:  The city gets its name from Christopher Columbus, who began European exploration and settlement of the Americas by landing on an island in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492.

It is not necessary to approve of every decision Columbus made or every decision every subsequent government in the Americas made or every decision every European migrant made in order to be grateful that we are one nation – in part, because of the achievement of one explorer from Genoa working on behalf of the king and queen of Spain 526 years ago this week.

But even more to the point is the city’s issuing of a press release only a few days ago, leading to stories appearing in news outlets only on the actual day it occurred.

Check out this sentence from a National Public Radio story on Monday quoting a spokesman for the mayor of the city, Robin Davis:

“When asked how the city made the change, and whether it had done so through a process that was open to public debate, Davis said the decision to stay open on Columbus Day ‘was agreed upon by all of the unions that represent city workers during regular contract negotiations over the last year’.”

Translation:  Shut up, people. We and the unions run this city, not you. We’ll announce what’s good for you when we feel like it.

As misguided as their actions are, at least the various left-wing city councils and mayors elsewhere in the country who have declared “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in place of Columbus Day have done so in some fashion that resembles representative government.

The cherry atop the dishonest sundae in Ohio’s largest city is the simultaneous announcement that the city will now observe Veterans Day instead — as if there’s a relationship between the two.

Ingratitude, imperiousness, disingenuousness:  These are the hallmarks of American public life in 2018.

If we’re going to address the larger problems rending American society, we have to start small. Gratefulness, honesty, and a commitment to hashing things out democratically ought to be our starting points, not nostalgic memories from a distant era.