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What You Missed This Week in La Gaceta

From As We Heard It, by Patrick Manteiga

► There is an ongoing and growing effort to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It’s now observed, or a version of it, by nine states.
It’s an odd but deliberate choice to celebrate the native peoples of North and South America on a day that marks the beginning of the demise of these people by disease, war and enslavement caused by sustained European contact. The goal of the movement behind Indigenous Peoples’ Day is not just to recognize the great civilizations that existed here before 1492 and their descendents, but also to demonize Christopher Columbus.
Columbus wasn’t a saint. He certainly did many deplorable things to the Indians, but this effort is an overcorrection of history, as many activists want to hang every sin committed against indigenous Americans on Columbus. That sin is too great for one individual to carry.
Just like Indigenous Peoples’ Day has dual goals and many reasons for being celebrated, the reasons and goals for Columbus Day are just as complex and deserving of study.
The most unembellished reason is to celebrate the man and his accomplishment. He sailed west when everyone else sailed east, survived and came back, and did it again. His acts showed bravery and bravado and forever changed the world. Did he treat the peoples he met as sub-humans? Yes, he did, as they were another resource to exploit, just like timber and gold.
The flood of Europeans who followed mostly felt the same way as Columbus.
Did Columbus discover America? It is obviously not that simple. But if you dig deeper, his act was even larger than a discovery. He launched what is known as the Columbian exchange (aka Columbian Interchange), which is named after him. This, according to the textbooks, is the widespread transfer of plants, animals, culture, human populations, technology, disease and ideas between Europe, Africa, North America and South America.
The exchange changed the world into what we recognize today.
Many see the image of American Indians as one of the plains tribes, proudly riding a horse on the hunt for buffalo. Without the Columbus voyage, these Indians would not have horses, which did not exist in the Americas before his arrival.
Italian cuisine and its strong reliance on red tomato-based sauces would not be had Columbus and those who followed not brought back the tomato to Spain and then Italy.
The potato famine that spurred the immigration of Irish to America wouldn’t have happened had the potato not been discovered by the Europeans in their invasion of the Americas.
The diseases brought over by Columbus and other explorers decimated the native population of North America and hollowed out the strength of those Indian nations. This weakening made it relatively easy for the English, Dutch and French to establish colonies in North America 150 years after Columbus arrived.
The exchange brought from the Old World to the New World, cattle, horses, donkeys, chickens, pigs, almonds, apples, bananas, cannabis, cherries, coconut, coffee, cucumbers, mangos, lettuce, melons, rice, peaches, pears, wheat, chickenpox, gonorrhea, mumps, smallpox and yellow fever, just to name a few.
The exchange from the New World to the Old World included turkeys, parrots, Muscovy ducks, llamas, avocados, blueberries, cashews, cotton, pumpkins and many squashes, corn, peanuts, pecans, potatoes, pineapples, sweet potatoes, rubber, tobacco, tomatoes, vanilla, syphilis and Chagas disease. Add to this list, which is very abbreviated, culture, human populations and ideas, and you start to get the picture.
Because of the exchange, Spain became the most powerful empire in the world for a time, the Word of Jesus was spread to two continents and the slave trade was ramped up into an industry.
We are hard pressed to indentify one person in history unless we turn to religion, who can be directly linked to so much change, both good and bad.
His voyage was transformative and that deserves recognition and is reason enough for Columbus Day to remain.
But as we wrote earlier, the reasons for Columbus Day are complex and there is another that deserves noting. The history of Columbus Day as a celebration dates back to the Italian-American community in San Francisco in 1869. The event was apparently to celebrate Italian culture, contributions and to improve the standing of Italian-Americans in the eyes of other Americans, who discriminated against and disenfranchised them. Columbus served as a great poster boy for this cause. As the “Discoverer of America,” he was a great link between Anglo-Americans and Italian-Americans.
With each new statue and road naming, Italian-Americans became more American, more accepted and more part of the establishment. It wasn’t about Columbus. Columbus was an excuse for being proud and celebrating a group’s history and heritage. Irish-Americans developed St. Patrick’s Day the same way, they were just luckier in picking a saint to carry the Irish banner while Columbus became a sinner.
The Italian contribution to our great country deserves recognition and this is another reason to keep Columbus Day. Should we do a better job of explaining what the discovery of America really is? Absolutely, but erasing Columbus Day won’t correct history. It’s political correctness gone awry and only further divides us. Pick a day to celebrate indigenous people but not Columbus Day. Those great cultures and people need to be promoted and the understanding of what was here before Columbus needs to be advanced, but we don’t have to erase one to advance the other.(to read more, buy a paper)

► Former State Senator John Grant was confirmed to serve on the Florida Ethics Committee. This isn’t his first time on the Committee. He served when Bob Graham was governor, and later when Jeb Bush was governor. He always believed the Commission would be more successful if it was allowed to initiate its own investigations. It’s been confined to having someone file a complaint before it can investigate.
This means a lot of unethical behavior is never challenged because people are afraid to file an official complaint for fear of retaliation due to that report being on the record.(to read more, buy a paper)

► The Florida Democratic Party voted to support statehood for Puerto Rico during its convention last week.(to read more, buy a paper)

From Chairman of the Bored, by Gene Siudut

► … Opiates, started taking the lives of people I knew over a decade ago. Alcohol took a handful more through alcoholism and the stupid decisions alcoholics make. I’m sure I have friends who seem to live normal functional lives, but they are self-medicating with pills, alcohol and God knows what else and they are suffering in silence. Many of us are unaware of these problems around us because we are either too consumed in our own lives or feel like hypocrites because we still enjoy nights out without the crutches of addiction.
While we need to hold those we love close, we need to also reach out to those who have slipped from our embrace. The tragedy of addiction in this country is at epidemic levels and there is no simple solution. Overcoming addiction takes more love and patience than most of us can offer because those we try to help are usually fighting us the entire road to recovery. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From O’Pinions To Go, by Joe O’Neill

► With the gobsmacking, unconscionable election of Trump, nothing is beyond the presidential pale anymore. Nothing. So how about an impeachment scenario that is energizing, convincing and not Robert Mueller-dependent or vulnerable to “second-hand” aspersions? One that moves relentlessly forward with more names dropping, including that of Mike Pence for being a Biden dirt-solicitor. And just suppose enough Republican senators listen to what remains of their consciences, honor their oaths of office, reclaim their spines and vote for an unprecedented conviction. If President Trump is removed and Pence is part of the removal, then it’s House Speaker next up: President Nancy Pelosi. And that’s, inexplicably but constitutionally, how America gets its first woman president. Not Hillary Clinton, not Elizabeth Warren, not Kamala Harris, not Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Nothing is beyond this presidential pale. Nothing. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From In Context, by Doris Weatherford

► I’m going sort of medium berserk right now. I have three speeches in the Midwest during the three weeks remaining in October, flying in and out on sequential days under the aegis of the Bill of Rights Institute. That will be fodder for future columns. Plus the manuscript deadline for my new book was last week. More fodder for the future.
Thus, this week’s column is going to be shorter, and I’m going to emulate the style of my colleague Joe O’Neill. I’ll take the little slips of paper on which I’ve jotted just an idea, and not explore that idea in my usual lengthy way. At least, that’s my plan. I hope you don’t mind, Joe. Bullets ahead.
• Lots of videos get circulated and recirculated on the internet, but I only saw this one once. Someone should get it running again. An ICE guy whose name I can’t recall was testifying before a House committee chaired by Representative Pramilla Jayapal, a Democrat. She was born in India, but dresses in western style and was duly elected by voters in Seattle. That did not matter to the ICE guy, though, who treated her as if she were scum. He refused to answer questions, repeatedly interrupted her, and twice shouted, “I’m a taxpayer! You work for me!” As if everyone else in the room weren’t also a taxpayer, including the congresswoman. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From Silhouettes, an interview with Dr. Kevin Sneed, by Tiffany Razzano

► An Orlando native, Dr. Kevin Sneed’s parents were Orange County educators who were part of a second wave of individuals who strived to desegregate the local school system.
This meant two things for Sneed while growing up: there was a large emphasis placed on education in his home and his parents taught him to connect with people from all backgrounds from an early age. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From Líneas de la memoria, por Gabriel Cartaya

► … Si José Dolores Poyo y Estenoz no hubiera tenido suficientes méritos para ocupar un lugar eminente en la Historia de Cuba, le habría sido suficiente alcanzarlo cuando le elegigiera Antonio Maceo como destinatario de una carta fechada en Honduras el 13 de agosto de 1884, donde expresara el General: “Quien intente apropiarse de Cuba recogerá el polvo de su suelo anegado en sangre, si no perece en la lucha”. Como si fuera poco, es a Poyo a quien confiesa José Martí, el 5 de diciembre de 1891: “Es la hora de los hornos, en que no se ha de ver más que la luz”.
¿Quién era este hombre para merecer la absoluta confianza y cariño de los dos héroes más encumbrados en la memoria de todos los cubanos? Era, en ambas fechas, el director del periódico El Yara, en Cayo Hueso, una de las publicaciones cubanas en la emigración que más contribuía a la causa independentista de la Isla. A ese islote estadounidense llegó José Dolores Poyo Estenoz en 1869, junto a su esposa Clara Camus de la Hoz y sus tres hijas, porque sus simpatías declaradas a la revolución independentista iniciada en su país el año anterior le obligaban al destierro. Hombre culto, poeta, escritor y periodista, encontró en el puesto de lector de tabaquería un espacio donde, en aquel islote, sostener a su familia y, a su vez, alimentar las ideas más avanzadas de su tiempo sobre la libertad, la democracia y la cultura. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From Briznas culturales, por Leonardo Venta

► … El Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso reabrió sus puertas el pasado jueves, 12 de septiembre para arrullarse con la magia de “Giselle”, la obra más representativa del Ballet Nacional de Cuba, insignia del romanticismo, interpretada en cuatro funciones por Viengsay Valdés, primera bailarina y subdirectora de la compañía, así como por las primeras figuras Anette Delgado, Sadaise Arencibia, Grettel Morejón, Dani Hernández, Rafael Quenedit y Raúl Abreu.
Representarán el papel de Myrtha, la vengativa e impetuosa reina de las willis, Ginett Moncho, Claudia García, Ely Regina y Chavera Riera. Ernesto Díaz encarnará el rol del labriego enamorado Hilarión, respaldados por el trabajo minucioso, sincronizado y virtuoso del estelar cuerpo de baile del Ballet Nacional de Cuba …(to read more, buy a paper)

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