To whom it may concern,
I represent a large group of proud Italian American medical professionals who wish to stand up for the defenseless Christopher Columbus. As of late, it has become increasingly in vogue to subject this fearless explorer and talented navigator to senseless and misdirected attack. As an educated group, we find it unclear why Columbus has gone from hero to villain in the last decade, despite being deceased for the past 500 years. It appears that the movement against him purports that he was an oppressor and conqueror who unfairly killed and enslaved Native Americans. However, history clearly documents that Columbus himself never owned slaves and only directed retaliation against the indigenous population on very few occasions in self-defense when he and his men came under attack at the hands of the aggressive, cannibal Carib tribe. The flag he flew under, Spain, eventually did lay claim to much of the new world, opening these new continents to the old world and the rest is history. Blaming Columbus for any suffering and wrongdoing that followed is akin to blaming global warming entirely on the man that invented the combustion engine.
You need not like Columbus; though I am not sure why anyone of us who enjoy the fruits of his discovery would hate him. No matter your stance, you do need to acknowledge his contributions, which reshaped the modern world more than any man in modern history, recognizing that our great country would not exist in its current form were it not for his brave and remarkable journey over 500 years ago.
We are proud Italian Americans who feel that our culture and contributions deserve at least one day per year to be recognized. We arrived in this great land in large numbers without the safety net that immigrants, legal and illegal, are currently afforded and overcame oppression, racism, and hostility to become doctors, lawyers, inventors, physicists, leaders, and even mayors of large cities. We comprised the largest portion of the U.S. military forces in World War II at a time when we were not completely accepted in society yet were expected to fight a war against our ancestral land. Unfairly defaming Columbus is not only ignorant and unfounded, but is considered a bias and hateful agenda in the eyes of the Italian American community at large.
So, while New York City and other places debate removing Columbus and other historical statues, I struggle to understand why we repeatedly need to bow to the pressure of uneducated and ignorant appeal to remove statues of figures that are part of permanent history simply to appease a self-serving desire of those opponents to play the role of perpetual victim. I therefore propose that if society decides that only statues of perfect and flawless figures should remain, then we should remove them all except for the crucifix. But then again, I’m unsure if even He might not pass their litmus test.
Renato Apolito, MD and La Societa Dei Fratelli Medici membership,
La Societa Dei Fratelli Medici