Below is a portion of a great piece at the National Review  on why Christopher Columbus is important to American history and idea of American exceptionalism:
One man, two narratives:
1. Born to a working-class wool weaver in the port city of Genoa, Italy, Cristoforo Colombo apprenticed as a sailor and went to sea as early as age ten. A self-taught and curious man, Colombo lived by his wits and rose in the heady world of 15th-century sea traders, until he hit upon an ingenious idea: He would outflank the Mohammedan Turks and reach the East Indies by sailing west across the Ocean Sea. After weathering nearly a decade of rejection and failure, in 1492 Colombo won the support of the Spanish Crown and set off on an uncertain journey that inadvertently opened a New World, laying the foundation for that most glittering daughter of the Western heritage: America.
2. Christopher Columbus, a dead white male of the worst variety, was a slaver, a capitalist, and a murderer of millions who embarked on a voyage motivated only by greed, which brought European imperialism to the shores of the “New World” and laid waste the ancient indigenous peoples there. Columbus deserves little credit (Leif Erikson had “discovered” the “new” continent 500 years earlier) and much blame for the horrors of the Columbian Exchange — the vast transfer of people, animals, and plants between the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. In his wake, the “New World” suffered smallpox, starvation, the cruel subjugation of the indigenous peoples, and the establishment of that most dastardly spawn of the West: America…
…First, to dispel a myth, Columbus Day is actually not the Italian-American equivalent of St. Patrick’s Day for Irish-Americans — although Italian-Americans have (and rightly so) long taken pride in Columbus’s Italian origins. There were celebrations in New York City commemorating the 300th anniversary of his journey in 1792, long before Italians had settled in the city in any numbers.
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