Kaufman: Where have you gone, Christopher Columbus Day?

If nothing else, Columbus boldly ventured where no one else would and changed the world.

A statue of Christopher Columbus is toppled outside the Minnesota Capitol. (Facebook screenshot)

Look at your calendar today. What does it say? If you’re lucky, it still says Columbus Day only, but more likely it’s shared with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” (IPD) or the latter might be listed alone.

In 1992, two socialist college towns, Berkeley and Santa Cruz, renamed the second Monday in October as IPD. And in the last five years, about 100 cities and many states joined the virtue signaling and began observing IPD in lieu of a man who paved the way for settlement and exploration of the Americas.

Locally, Gov. Tim Walz allowed vandals to topple a 90-year-old Christopher Columbus statue — sculpted by an Italian immigrant as a symbol of acceptance — this summer at the Minnesota State Capitol.

After not deploying police, Walz issued a feeble statement about how “it’s important that process is followed in order to ensure the safety of bystanders and the preservation of surrounding property.”

While the teacher-turned-politician was tepid, his lieutenant governor was thrilled with the crime.

“The arrival of Christopher Columbus to what is now the Americas set in motion centuries of violence and genocide against the indigenous people who already lived here,” Peggy Flanagan ranted. “It was a constant reminder that our systems were not built by or for Native people or people of color, but in many cases, to exclude, erase and eliminate us.”

These excruciating armchair clichés come from an ignorant activist raised in a tony suburb. She knows nothing. Even as a trained historian, I don’t know much about Columbus — because nobody does.

There were no reporters on his voyages and no first person narratives. Well-funded historians ascribe atrocities to Columbus without backup. The only primary source material is a letter Columbus wrote while returning from his voyage to the new world. Now sitting inside the Vatican, it’s complimentary to the natives he encountered.

A young CNN reporter, however, believes she knows everything that happened. You can guess her conclusions.

The hard left is predictably ebullient and wants the agenda to go further, as always. “It’s hard to deny that at least some Americans are waking up to the truth about their history, and that’s better than staying asleep.”

Do they have info we don’t?

More than ever, people need to learn from history rather than whitewash it. If we destroy the evidence, as statue-toppling agitators do, we eliminate future understanding. Judging past actions by contemporary moral standards is unfair. And allowing noxious mobs to further their political agenda by destroying state property should be impermissible.

As a former teacher, I vividly recall the greeting of a colleague one Columbus Day.

“Hey, Mr. K, Happy Murdering of Indigenous people Day! I’ll tell my kids the real Columbus story today.”

In responding that I intended to teach the story of Columbus as it happened, not the Howard Zinn version, maybe I stooped to his level; but it’s difficult to be unalarmed by the anti-American revisionism taught throughout our school systems.

Many of the U.S. history classrooms where I substitute taught during the early 2000s held polls where students voted on “who really discovered America?” Are we naive enough to believe teacher influence played no role in results showing “Chief Howling Wind” easily defeating Columbus, 178 to 2?

How different from when I was in school. Back then, we took part in essay contests about the deeds of Columbus on his voyage’s 500th Anniversary. By the time I taught, a decade later, however, the holiday was replaced on school calendars with Cesar Chavez Day, in honor of the labor radical.

If nothing else, Columbus boldly ventured where no one else would and changed the world. He brought Western civilization and Judeo-Christian values across the Atlantic and initiated a modern age.

I’ll celebrate that.