Thursday, October 11, 2007

Meaningless with Zeroes on It

Well, tomorrow is the real Columbus Day. I'm looking forward to all the parades, the celebrations, and they other festivities -- that won't happen. No one will even think about it being Columbus day because it was "moved" to last Monday. I remember when I first heard of Columbus day in elementary school; for some reason my parents had forgotten to tell me about this holiday.
My first impressions of C-day were of someone who took the risk of possibly sailing off the edge of a flat world, against the advice and counsel of all of Europe and Asia. I saw him planting a flag -- possibly an American flag -- somewhere on the coast of, probably, Florida. All of us elementary kids looked forward to that special day in 1992 when we would celebrate 500 years of America. Somehow, I tied Columbus up with the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving.

What a wake-up call we've had. First of all, the 1992 celebrations never happened. By the time the 500th rolled around, Christopher Columbus was a white European racist who ruined world history. He somehow opened the door to the evil Europeans who came in and destroyed the diverse but peaceful native American culture, with its tranquil nature/religion, tolerance, and environmental awareness. By 1992 he was one of the top ten hated people in America.
--And the poor guy never even made it here! While some people say he may have gotten all the way to Central America, he probably never got beyond some Caribbean islands.

Of course, the whole civilized world knew the planet was round. They just thought it was a little smaller. Nations were vying with each other to get to the Orient first; the Portuguese had already taken the around-the-horn-of-Africa route, so they had to look elsewhere. If Columbus had not come; America still would have been "discovered." Everyone knew it was there.

The overt hatred of "all things Columbus," however, didn't overrule the holiday celebration. We still celebrate the day. Why? Because Columbus champions that great American value, the Long Weekend! For the rest of history, we will teach our children that a racist white man, at the bidding of a racist white government, was sent to a pure land to defile and destroy a culture of innocents, and he got there on a Monday -- every year!

Our children will not question why we celebrate such an evil exploit. All they know is that the bank is closed, you can't mail letters, and sometimes you even miss school because of whatever this man did.

If there is any better example of modern post-American nihilism, I can't think of it. We celebrate a man that our culture hates by taking off a day from work, and we usually don't even "celebrate" the right day, because what we're really celebrating is a decline in productivity and responsibility. When the "no-work/long-weekend" crowd moved the day to Monday in the "Stupid 70's," they moved a lot more. Even July 4th was under consideration (that would have been even funnier: "This bank will be closed July 7th for July 4th"), and many otherwise "meaningless" holidays were kidnapped and moved to Monday.

I celebrate the veterans who explained that November 11 was an actual historical date, and demanded that November 11 be celebrated -- surprise -- on November 11. At least one group had the backbone necessary to stand up to this 70's silliness. Of course, poor Columbus was not the only victim. We managed to bash two more White males. By combining Lincoln's birthday and Washington's birthday, we now have "Presidents' Day," another Monday off. The sad irony is that the guidelines for taking this Monday is that it is impossible for "Presidents' Day" to fall on either of these two men's birthdays.

When a new generation asks the one just past what the meaning of life is all about, we will have less satisfying info to give them than any other American generation before us. Throw Monday "holidays" for insignificant events into the pile with the Electoral College, the two-minute warning in football, and Sundays off, as things that no one remembered what they were for. We do so many things now that are meaningless. That's why, when something really does account for something, we need to stand up for it. The best thing we can leave for the next generation is meaning.

1 comment:


In your anti-Monday-holiday angle, you forgot to mention Martin Luther King Day.