Posted on October 11, 2018

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, October 11, 2018

This week, the statue of Viking explorer Thorfinn Karlsefni in Philadelphia was knocked over and thrown into the river. Police have no motive. Some speculate Philadelphia Eagles fans attacked Karlsefni because of an upcoming game against the Minnesota Vikings, but recent history suggests the vandalism was probably political. Monuments to Norse explorers are antifa targets just like statues of Columbus. Karlsefni was the father of Snorri Thorfinnsson, the first white child born in North America. Defacing the monuments to Norse explorers and to Columbus sends a clear message: Europeans should never have come here.

The activist group Keystone United celebrates Leif Erikson Day every year at the Karlsefni statue, and this is why antifa groups vandalize it. Last year, they defaced it with graffiti and an anarchist symbol, and they attacked it in 2008. In response to the most recent criminality, Metro Philly quoted Daryle Lamont Jenkins of One People’s Project calling for the statue be removed. This is, in effect, a heckler’s veto; if a monument gets vandalized often enough, it should be taken down. Leftist journalist Joshua Albert seemed to endorse this.

Thorfinn Karlsefni statue, before it was toppled.

Last year, the statue of Norse explorer Leif Erikson in Duluth, Minnesota, was vandalized, and the words “discoverer of America” crossed out. President Donald Trump still proclaimed October 9 “Leif Erikson Day,” however, to honor the man who was probably “the first European to reach our continent.” Unlike Columbus, no one is yet accusing Leif Erickson of enslaving the natives or unleashing genocide. However, Time’s Oliva Waxman says Leif Erikson Day is still “troubling:” “[A]s the tide grows behind the idea of Indigenous Peoples Day. . . the celebration of the Viking explorer isn’t any less problematic in that sense than the celebration of the Italian explorer.” What is “problematic” is the fact that white people came to America at all.

Miss Waxman explains that Leif Erikson Day originally gained favor because Protestants and Northern Europeans wanted an alternative to the Catholic and Italian Christopher Columbus. Different groups championed different holidays. October 9 is Leif Erikson Day because it was the day the first ship of Norwegian immigrants arrived in America. Columbus Day is important to many Italian-Americans, with even far-left politicians such as Governor Andrew Cuomo defending it on grounds of community pride. Vandals don’t care. An Italian-American museum and a statue of Columbus in Philadelphia were both vandalized on Columbus Day — maybe even by the same people who knocked down the Karlsefni statue.

Many Christopher Columbus statues have been hit. One in Boston has been repeatedly vandalized. In 2017, one in Baltimore was smashed as part of an effort to “tear down” racism. A monument to Columbus in Central Park was also defaced that year, and a statue of the explorer in Middletown, Connecticut, had its nose chipped off. In Yonkers, a Columbus statue was beheaded.

More ominously, cities are cancelling Columbus Day celebrations. Columbus, Ohio, named after the Admiral of the Ocean Sea, did not celebrate its namesake this year, claiming it didn’t have the money. A number of other cities, including Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Denver now celebrate “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” instead of Columbus Day.

Becky Little has written about Erikson and Columbus. In 2015 in National Geographic, she wrote, “Columbus Day’s current detractors might argue that the debate over whether Columbus or Erikson played a greater role in European migration to America is moot, since both of them ‘discovered’ a place where they’d never been but where millions of people already lived.” In an article last year, Miss Little quoted Professor Leo Killsback, who teaches “American Indian Studies” at Arizona State University and campaigns against Columbus Day: “[It] is not just a holiday, it represents the violent history of colonization in the Western hemisphere.”

This is now the obligatory leftist view, and Miss Little appears to share it. After the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, she retweeted someone complaining that America is a “shithole country” populated by “affluent male colonizers.”

She also retweeted self-styled Cherokee Rebecca Nagle saying that “changing the name [of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day] is just the first step.” What’s the next step? Kicking us out?

Ultimately, the question is whether European settlement was a good thing. It used to be taken for granted that it was. President Franklin Roosevelt, in a 1937 speech honoring the first English child born in North America, Virginia Dare, hailed the “restless energy” of those who would “fare forth on voyages of exploration and conquest.” His one oblique reference to Indians was to pay tribute to the men that “had to take their turn standing guard at the stockade” raised to protect against the Indians.

As Americans like President Roosevelt would have understood, the misleading term “Native Americans” conceals the reality that “America” did not exist until Europeans created it. At the founding, American Indians were not considered part of the United States; the Declaration of Independence calls them “merciless Indian savages.” President Trump’s 2017 Columbus Day declaration reflects this: “The permanent arrival of Europeans to the Americas . . . set the stage for the development of our great nation.” His 2018 declaration similarly praised Columbus’s “historic achievement” and the “beginning of centuries of transatlantic exploration that transformed the Western Hemisphere.”

In contrast, President Obama’s Columbus Day declarations lamented the “pain and suffering reflected in the story of Native Americans who had long resided on this land prior to the arrival of European newcomers.” One also claimed that “multiculturalism. . . defines the American experience.” Media criticized President Trump for not following President Obama’s example, but President Trump’s declaration of pride is far more logical than his predecessor’s attempt to please everyone. It’s hard to express pride in Columbus and still believe, as a 2015 Vox article declared, that “the US was built on the theft of Native Americans’ land.”

“Columbus Day” and “Leif Erikson Day” celebrate the European settlement of North America. “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” mourns it. Tearing down monuments to Columbus and Norse explorers is an attack on America that culminates in saying that white people should never have come to North America and have no right to stay. The logical conclusion is the protest slogan “U.S. Out of North America.” We see the same thing in South Africa, where whites are now being persecuted in the country their ancestors built.

If we don’t fight back, the effort to discredit European settlement won’t stop at abolishing Columbus Day or taking down statues of Norse explorers. It will stop only when the people who brought Western Civilization to this continent are pushed out. America isn’t a nation of immigrants; it’s a nation of European pioneers, settlers, and conquers. Our country is not defined by “multiculturalism” but by the achievements of our ancestors. We should be proud of them.