WASHINGTON – “Christopher Columbus represents one of the first of Italy’s many immeasurable contributions to American history”. He writes it Donald Trump in the president’s proclamation for Columbus Day, which over the years has also become a sort of day of celebration for the Italian-American community.
“Columbus inspired the first immigrants to bring their rich heritage to the New World here,” writes the president.
Trump then underlines how today the country “benefits from the affection and generosity of the 17 million Italian Americans, whose love for family and homeland strengthens the fabric of the nation”. “For our beautiful Italian American communities and for Americans of all origins – he concludes – Colombo remains a legendary figure”.
The usual Columbus Day holiday has turned into an attack on “radical activists” who, according to the president, “seek to undermine the legacy of the Italian explorer”. For years, several activists, especially Native Americans, have been pushing to transform Columbus Day into a national day of indigenous peoples, stressing that the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas has started centuries of genocide against the natives.
In the USA there are 158 monuments dedicated to Columbus.
Trump’s statement is part of a discussion that has inflamed public opinion not only in the United States for months, the one on statues depicting controversial historical figures. In several American states, several statues of Christopher Columbus have been demolished, legally or otherwise.
At the same time as the US president was speaking, the Mexico City administration decided to dismantle a statue dedicated to the Genoese explorer.