Contact Me By Email

Atlanta, GA Weather from Weather Underground

Jackie McLean

John H. Armwood Jazz History Lecture Nashville's Cheekwood Arts Center 1989

Monday, October 14, 2019

Columbus Day Or Indigenous Peoples' Day? : NPR

"On Monday in the nation's capital, there is no Columbus Day. The D.C. Council voted to replace it with Indigenous Peoples' Day in a temporary move that it hopes to make permanent. Several other places across the United States have also made the switch in a growing movement to end the celebration of the Italian explorer in favor of honoring Indigenous communities and their resiliency in the face of violence by European explorers like Christopher Columbus.

Baley Champagne is responsible for that change in her home state of Louisiana. The tribal citizen of the United Houma Nation petitioned the governor, John Bel Edwards, to change the day. He did, along with several other states this year.

"It's become a trend," Champagne said. "It's about celebrating people instead of thinking about somebody who actually caused genocide on a population or tried to cause the genocide of an entire population. By bringing Indigenous Peoples' Day, we're bringing awareness that we're not going to allow someone like that to be glorified into a hero, because of the hurt that he caused to Indigenous people of America."

Columbus, Ohio, Is Not Observing Columbus Day This Year


Columbus, Ohio, Is Not Observing Columbus Day This Year

And so in Houma, La., people from across the state will gather to honor and celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day for the first time.

She wants it to be "a celebration and to bring acknowledgment to the Native population," Champagne said. "You know, because we have many friends of all different races in this area and Houma is named after the Houma people, the Houma Choctaw. So to bring this, I think it's long overdue. It's a big celebration. And we're just so excited to have this finally."

There's no comprehensive list of places that have switched, but at least 10 states now celebrate some version of Indigenous Peoples' Day on the second Monday in October, like Hawaii's Discoverers' Day or South Dakota's Native Americans' Day. Many college campuses have dumped Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples' Day as have more than 100 cities, towns and counties across the country.

For Native Americans, Columbus Day has long been hurtful. It conjures the violent history of 500 years of colonial oppression at the hands of European explorers and those who settled here — a history whose ramifications and wounds still run deep today.

Sandusky, Ohio, Makes Election Day A Paid Holiday — By Swapping Out Columbus Day


Sandusky, Ohio, Makes Election Day A Paid Holiday — By Swapping Out Columbus Day

"Today we understand that while [Columbus] was an explorer and is credited with being one of the first Europeans to arrive in the Americas, we now know a great deal about the history and the way that he and his people behaved when they came to this continent," said Shannon Speed, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and director of the UCLA American Indian Studies Center. "Which included pillaging, raping and generally setting in motion a genocide of the people who were already here. That's not something we want to celebrate. That's not something anyone wants to celebrate."

The shift isn't happening without some pushback. For many Italian Americans, Columbus Day is their day to celebrate Italian heritage and the contributions of Italian Americans to the United States. It was adopted at a time when Italians were vilified and faced religious and ethnic discrimination. The first commemoration came in 1892, a year after a mass lynching of 11 Italian Americans by a mob in New Orleans. Italian Americans latched onto the day as a way to mainstream and humanize themselves in the face of rampant discrimination. It became a national holiday in 1934 to honor a man who, ironically, never set foot in the United States. Columbus anchored in the Bahamas.

For many Italian Americans, Columbus Day isn't just about the man but about what the day represents: a people searching for safety and acceptance in their new home.

For many Italian Americans, Columbus Day is about celebrating Italian heritage and the contributions of Italian Americans to the United States. Above, the Christopher Columbus statue at Manhattan's Columbus Circle in New York.

Bebeto Matthews/AP

In 2017, after someone vandalized the Christopher Columbus statue in New York City's Central Park, the then-president and chief operating officer of the National Italian American Foundation, John M. Viola, wrote in a New York Times editorial, "The 'tearing down of history' does not change that history. In the wake of the cultural conflict that has ripped us apart over these months, I wonder if we as a country can't find better ways to utilize our history to eradicate racism instead of inciting it. Can't the monuments and holidays born of our past be reimagined to represent new values for our future?"

He went on to write, "We believe Christopher Columbus represents the values of discovery and risk that are at the heart of the American dream, and that it is our job as the community most closely associated with his legacy to be at the forefront of a sensitive and engaging path forward, toward a solution that considers all sides."

Speed says she recognizes the importance of celebrating the history and contributions of Italian Americans, but there has to be another way to honor them.

"There are a lot of Italian Americans who very much support the shift to Indigenous Peoples' Day because they don't want to feel themselves associated with a man who is known to have committed terrible crimes against humanity," she said. "Italian Americans were greatly discriminated against in this country, and it's incredibly important to have a day to celebrate that heritage. It just shouldn't be around the figure of Columbus."

Celebrating Columbus, she said, not only whitewashes a violent history but also discounts the further trauma that honoring him inflicts on Indigenous people.

Rally participants listen to an address by Frank Bear Killer of the Oglala Lakota tribe outside the state Capitol in Lincoln, Neb., in 2016 to mark Lincoln's first Indigenous Peoples' Day. At least 10 states now celebrate some version of Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Nati Harnik/AP

"Indigenous children are going to school and being forced to hear about and celebrate the person who set in motion the genocide of their people," Speed said. "That's incredibly painful. It creates an ongoing harm. And so we can't have a national holiday that creates an ongoing harm for a significant portion of our citizens."

For Native Americans, that pain is the first thing they feel when they hear "Columbus Day," Speed said. But when a group of Berkeley, Calif., residents asked the city to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day in 1992, then-Mayor Loni Hancock said it was the first time she'd really understood the negative impact of this holiday on Indigenous people.

"We had to think about what is this holiday about and who discovered America and how really profoundly disrespectful it was to say that a European explorer who never actually set foot on the continent did that," Hancock said. "Discounting the Indigenous people who had lived here for centuries with very sophisticated cultures and pretty much in harmony with the earth."

Words You'll Hear: Indigenous Peoples Day

Indigenous peoples first proposed the day during a 1977 United Nations conference on discrimination against them. But it wasn't until 1989 that South Dakota became the first state to switch Columbus Day to Native Americans' Day, celebrating it for the first time in 1990. And then Berkeley became the first U.S. city to switch to Indigenous Peoples' Day. The Pew Research Center says Columbus Day is the most inconsistently observed national holiday in the United States.

"Certainly the hundreds and thousands of Italian immigrants who came over in steerage class on the boats at the turn of the 19th century endured a lot of hardships to get here," Hancock said. "But the discovery of America is something where you want to get your history right. And I think that to fully understand and take responsibility for who we are as a people in this land made it very important to be clear about who was here first and reflect on what happened in our history after that, in terms of the displacement and oftentimes genocide of those people. How that might have reflected a general discounting of the history and the humanity of nonwhite people of many kinds in this country and to take responsibility for our history."

Columbus Day Or Indigenous Peoples' Day? : NPR

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Opinion | Note to the Impeachment Investigators: Trump Rarely Acts Alone - The New York Times

"President Trump’s assaults on democracy are rarely solo endeavors. His schemes often entangle, by chance or by choice, an array of accomplices, enablers, observers and victims — many of whom will need to be heard from as House members begin investigating the Ukraine scandal as part of the impeachment inquiry announced last week.

“There is a whole host of people apparently who have knowledge of these events,” Representative Adam Schiff of California, who is spearheading the inquiry as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Thursday. Fortunately, said Mr. Schiff, the complaint filed by the administration whistle-blower provides “a pretty good road map of allegations that we need to investigate.”

Indeed it does. Among the many persons of interest in this investigation: whichever White House and State Department staffers were listening in on Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky; the staffers who subsequently received a readout of that call; and those involved in the effort to “lock down” the record of it. The lines of inquiry quickly spiral. But here are a few notable figures — in addition, of course, to the whistle-blower himself — who could prove particularly useful to House investigators.

Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal attorney/fixer. As the point person on the push to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Mr. Giuliani likely knows more about the origins, scope and details of the effort than almost anyone. Some of the more targeted mysteries he could shed light on include: When and from whom did the president first get the idea to pressure Ukraine? How did Mr. Giuliani first become involved? Was he being paid for his work, and if so, by whom?

Mr. Giuliani loudly insists that he was working at the behest of the State Department. In that case, when did he first make contact with department officials? Which officials did he work with and in what capacity? How many people knew about his freelance project for Mr. Trump?

Bill Barr, attorney general. Mr. Barr is neck-deep in this mess. He features prominently not only in the whistle-blower’s complaint but also in the readout of the July 25 call, in which Mr. Trump told Mr. Zelensky that Mr. Barr, like Mr. Giuliani, would be contacting him about the investigation into Mr. Biden. The Justice Department has denied that Mr. Barr knew anything about this promise. But Mr. Barr should be pressed on why Mr. Trump thought it was proper to offer the services of the American attorney general to help a foreign government investigate his own political opponent.

When the whistle-blower complaint citing him by name was referred to the Justice Department, Mr. Barr should have formally recused himself from any involvement with it. Why didn’t he?

Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff. In July, Mr. Trump directed Mr. Mulvaney to arrange for Ukraine’s military aid to be put on hold. What explanation did he give Mr. Mulvaney? Whom did Mr. Mulvaney contact at the Departments of Defense and State to make that happen? What explanations did he offer them?

Mike Pompeo, secretary of State. Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has already issued a raft of questions that he’d like Mr. Pompeo to address, including: Was Mr. Pompeo concerned that America’s Ukraine policy had been partially outsourced to the president’s personal lawyer? When did Mr. Pompeo first learn of Mr. Giuliani’s work? Did he approve it, and was he aware that State Department officials were involved with it? What explanation was he given for the withholding of aid to Ukraine?

Kurt Volker, former part-time special envoy to Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union. Both men consulted with Mr. Giuliani about his Ukraine project. On July 26, one day after Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky, Mr. Volker and Mr. Sondland met with Ukrainian officials and reportedly offered advice on how to “navigate” Mr. Trump’s requests. Did they, as the whistle-blower claims, at some point become concerned about Mr. Giuliani’s work and seek to “contain the damage”? Mr. Volker resigned his post on Friday. Why?

Mike Pence, vice president. In his conversations with Ukrainian officials, including his Sept. 1 meeting with Mr. Zelensky, was there any mention of Mr. Biden or of the delayed military funding package? When asked at a news conference on Sept. 2 if he could assure Ukraine that the two issues were not linked, Mr. Pence ducked the question. Mr. Pence should also explain why Mr. Trump directed him to cancel his plans to attend Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration in May.

Mr. Trump himself has suggested looking into Mr. Pence’s interactions with Ukrainian officials. “And I think you should ask for VP Pence’s conversation, because he had a couple conversations also,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

John Bolton, former national security adviser. Mr. Bolton was forced out of the White House in September. What did he know about Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign? Mr. Bolton is said to have pushed for the withheld military aid to be released. What explanation did he receive for it being withheld?

Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community. Mr. Atkinson reviewed the whistle-blower complaint, deemed it both “urgent” and “credible,” and forwarded it to Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. After Mr. Maguire declined to pass the complaint along to Congress, as indicated by federal law, Mr. Atkinson chose to alert lawmakers to its existence himself. What explanation did Mr. Maguire give for not forwarding the complaint? How did he respond when Mr. Atkinson informed him that he would be alerting Congress?

Lawmakers will also need to hear from whoever was charged with moving the transcript of Mr. Trump’s July 25 call from the usual computer system to the special server, maintained by the National Security Council, reserved for “classified information of an especially sensitive nature.” Who directed this action? (On Friday, a White House official told CNN that National Security Council attorneys did so.) Who else knew about it? Did anyone object at the time? Have other such conversations been improperly stashed in the system, as the whistle-blower alleged? (It has been reported that reconstructed transcripts of phone calls Mr. Trump had with the Saudi royal family and with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, were stored on the server as well.) It’s worth remembering that one of the biggest bombshells of the Watergate hearings came from Alexander Butterfield, a relatively obscure administration staffer, who shared what he knew about the White House taping system.

Then there are the “multiple U.S. government officials” whom the whistle-blower cites as his sources — the ones whom Mr. Trump has compared to spies and has implied deserve to be executed for treason.

The challenge for congressional investigators will be to get as many of these people as possible to speak — especially given this White House’s expansive interpretation of executive privilege — and then make sense of the sprawling, Trumpian mess."

Opinion | Note to the Impeachment Investigators: Trump Rarely Acts Alone - The New York Times