Why do we still have Columbus Day? (5×8 – 10/8/12)

The history of Columbus Day, a good run in the Twin Cities, going Full Cycle, farewell Midway Stadium, and for the love of apples.


The Monday Morning Rouser…

1) THE HISTORY OF COLUMBUS DAY

Most of us are working today; the exceptions are a few school kids and federal workers, who aren’t looking a gift holiday horse in the mouth. It’s Columbus Day, a day that Minnesota doesn’t recognize.

Why do we bother with Columbus Day? Because the Italian American vote for politicians is still important.Cultural historian Yoni Applebaum writes on The Atlantic today that Columbus was held in such high esteem in the U.S., that Italians, the victims of racism, sought to shield themselves with the connection. That, he says, is when the Vikings got their due.


nstead of accepting Italians, many nativists chose to reject Columbus. They cast about for a racially acceptable discoverer of the New World, and found him in Leif Erikson. The exploits of the great Viking explorer, recorded in Icelandic sagas, were already being promoted by Norwegian immigrants, eager to find acceptance of their own. If America did not, after all, owe its existence to an Italian Catholic, then there would be no need to accept his modern compatriots. “At a moment of increasing fear that the nation was committing race suicide,” explains historian Joanne Mancini, “the thought of Viking ghosts roaming the streets of a city increasingly filled with Irish, Italian, and Jewish hordes must have been comforting to an Anglo-Saxon elite.”

Viking motifs began to pop up in architecture, purported Viking artifacts were duly unearthed, and a general craze ensued. The noted Harvard chemist Eben Norton Horsford claimed for the Norsemen “the honor of having discovered America, five hundred years before Columbus.” He concluded that Leif Erikson had made landfall in his own Cambridge, and expressed his hope that “the American, native born, will come here, as of old, to rekindle his pride in his birthright.” In 1887, a committee of assorted worthies, including James Russell Lowell, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Charles W. Eliot, and Oliver Wendell Holmes raised the funds to erect a statue of Leif Erikson amid the stately homes of Boston’s Back Bay.

For American Indians, Columbus Day is a “celebration” of survival.

“Columbus Day is a chance to teach about who we once were, what has become of us since Europeans arrived on our shores, and who we are today — a struggling but surviving people,” Diana King, a member of the White Earth Indian Nation in northern Minnesota and a teacher in the school system there.

“I want teachers to teach more about Indian civilization just like they do with Egyptian or European history,” she says. “Our … history did not begin with Christopher Columbus.”

2) A GOOD RUN

The neatest thing about this time-lapse of yesterday’s Twin Cities Marathon is the people who stayed for most of it just to clap and cheer for people…

It’s a great day for runners’ fashion…

And nobody seems all that interested in who won…

3) GOING FULL CYCLE

This might be the last of the stories from Bus 52′s stops in Minnesota. Released yesterday.

Full Cycle might look to the outside eye like simply an ordinary bike shop but, while it does contain row upon row of bikes and all the parts you might need to fix one, there’s a twist. It is in fact a nonprofit bike shop, “a social enterprise” explains Founder and Director, Matt Tennant.”

4) FAREWELL, MIDWAY

Now that the Saint Paul Saints are getting a new stadium in downtown Saint Paul, is it too early to lament the demise of Midway Stadium? A new short film suggests the answer is “no.”

Midway Stadium from Vista Pop on Vimeo.

(h/t: City Pages)

5) FOR THE LOVE OF APPLES

The weekend was big for apple festivals all over the Upper Midwest. Here’s Leif Enger’s latest masterpiece. We should all head to Aitkin for some pie.

apples from Leif Enger on Vimeo.

Bonus I: Lost in a Sea of Sunflowers. The most poignant thing you’ll read today.

Bonus II: Revisiting the Minnesota Miracle. (Downtown Journal)

TODAY’S QUESTION

Figures released Friday showed that the unemployment rate in September dropped to 7.8 percent. It was the lowest unemployment rate since President Obama took office in January 2009. Today’s Question: How does the decline in unemployment affect your view of the presidential contest?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: We all know that approval ratings for our government are at an all-time low. But did you know that this mistrust has infected all sorts of American institutions? Seven in 10 Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track; eight in 10 are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed. Only 23 percent have confidence in banks, and just 19 percent have confidence in big business. Less than half the population expresses “a great deal” of confidence in the public-school system or organized religion. Have we been through this before and will America recover its trust?

Second hour: Two politicial opposition researchers explain what goes into the work of digging up dirt on politicians.

Third hour: Kerri’s conversation with novelist Thomas Mallon about his historical novel “Watergate.”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Playwright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton, speaking with Stephen Smith on “Bright Ideas.”

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – Understanding kids, gangs, and guns.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - One of the toughest — and strangest — congressional races in the country is

between two Los Angeles incumbents. Both men are Democrats. A new non-partisan primary system in California allows the top two finishers to face off in the general election, even if they’re from the same party. NPR looks at the bruising congressional battle.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference hosts a panel on “What the future looks like if marriage in Minnesota is redefined – A Canadian Perspective” at the University of St. Thomas. Canada legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, and the Catholic Conference argues it’s harmed the free practice of religious beliefs. Supporters of same sex marriage disagree. MPR’s Sasha Aslanian will have the story.

  • Robert Moffitt

    #1 Hello life, goodbye Columbus.

    #2 Did they clap for Phidippides?

    #4 The death of any sports facilitiy is always a little sad.

  • Josh

    As one of those people running yesterday, I was grateful for all those people who stayed out there and cheered and clapped all morning in the cold.

  • Conner

    We went to a Saints game shortly before the vote that ended up guaranteeing the Saints were getting a new Stadium. Both of us wanted the Saints to get a new stadium and downtown Saint Paul to get another summertime draw, but neither of us wanted Midway to go. I’ll miss almost everything about that stadium, except for the soreness caused by those bleachers.

  • jjdre

    Your History of Columbus Day is interesting; it exposes the zero sum game that is played by the monoculture. The message seems to be if you want acceptance you must take it from someone else.

  • Aishah Bowron

    Forget the evil, brutal genocidal murderer and Indian-killing slave trader Christopher Columbus !. That guy was a worthless sack of **** !. Long live Leif Ericson the true discoverer of America !. Leif is a much better explorer than Christopher Columbus and Leif discovered Newfoundland in Canada while Chris only reached a few tiny islands in the Caribbean !. so abolish Columbus Day !. End it now !.