We’ve propped up Columbus for too long
Jeff Jacoby proposes that one criterion for removing a statue should be whether the person is “known today primarily for unworthy or indecent behavior” (”Statue-toppling, right and wrong,” Ideas, June 14). The problem with this reasoning is that our majority culture has historically downplayed misdeeds of figures we would prefer to honor. What most of us learned in school about Christopher Columbus was simply that he “discovered America” and not much more. Jacoby’s own description of Columbus concedes “enormous flaws” in character in a man “who could behave with great cruelty.”
That Columbus is not known today primarily for his unworthy behavior is probably due to the incomplete account we have perpetuated for hundreds of years. How is that a valid basis for judging the man?
May cooler heads prevail on this one
Whether the work of a lone agitator or a group of them, the decapitation of the Christopher Columbus statue in Boston’s North End is symbolic in more ways than one: Clearly, people are not thinking with their heads (”Columbus statue to be removed pending review,” Metro, June 11).
To progressive activists, I say: The cause of restoring the wrongs to Native Americans is a noble one; however, the destruction of public property makes you just as violent as those you seem to disdain.
To Italian Americans: Columbus had two goals — finding a route to Asia and converting the Native Americans to Christianity. His ultimate achievement changed the planet: He joined two worlds.
When Mayor Walsh has a conversation about the Columbus statue, we only ask that he truly hear both sides rather than be buffeted by the winds of political expediency.
Bill Dal Cerro
Italic Institute of America
That tricky little word ‘some’
In Kevin Cullen’s June 16 Metro column “Real people over statues,” he makes several statements using the word “some” and other statements leaving the word “some” out. Read in a pattern, they begin to create opinions rather than facts.
The first of these sentences begins, “Some Native Americans resent the glorification of Columbus,” implying that other Native Americans do not resent it. The second begins, “Americans of Italian descent take exception to that characterization,” implying that all of them do because the qualifier “some” is not there. The third example starts with “Native Americans have some valid points about Columbus,” implying that other points are not valid because the qualifier appears again.
Further, one may ask why the qualifier “some” is used only in the comments about Native Americans and not the statement about Italian-Americans. Language choice is an important tool in communication, and subtleties in word choice can create an impression that one group of people has more validity than another.
The writer is a consultant on communications skills.
With the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in the North End, one can wonder: What’s next? Columbus Avenue? Columbia Point? Columbus, Ohio? Columbia University? And the prize target, the District of Columbia.
Then we can get on to Amerigo Vespucci, another Italian explorer. So there goes America.