Happy Bartolome Day!

Today is a federal holiday known as Columbus Day in the US because this country continues to honor the memory of one of the most horrific mass murderers in history, a greedy, vicious, slaveholding monster, someone who should actually be reviled and condemned. Having a national holiday in his name seems to put him on a par with Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr..

Making it a national holiday in the 1937 was a big mistake by president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, done to pander to the Italian community and the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic pressure group.

The comic strip The Oatmeal provides a succinct and compelling case for why Columbus should be condemned and why, if the US feels it must honor someone associated with the arrival of Europeans in America, it would do well to honor Bartolome de las Casas instead.

So following The Oatmeal‘s lead, I hereby celebrate Bartoleme Day.


  1. brucegee1962 says

    When Neil Armstrong died, I heard a strong argument that the day should be changed to honor him. But ditching Columbus would be awfully hard to get past the racist “never question any iota of the perfection of America’s past compared to its present depravity” crowd. So what we should do is rebrand the day to become Explorer’s Day, and then everyone can celebrate whichever explorer they most prefer.

  2. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    one of the most horrific mass murderers in history

    No, Columbus wasn’t a very nice chap and you forgot to add that he wasn’t very good navigator or geographer either- his theories rested on the assumption that the world is a lot smaller than it is- but he wasn’t much of a mass murderer, not compared with his successors. It was almost certainly lack of opportunity rather than lack of desire that deprives him of this distinction, but we should allow him that minor virtue.

  3. 5Up Mushroom says

    I prefer “Native American” day as opposed to honoring yet another white guy. We have plenty of white saviors as it is. The ACLU has a good post about the subject today.

  4. 2up2down2furious says

    I’ve seen the Oatmeal comic circulating, and I think the author’s heart is in the right place, but a “Bartolome Day” is both misguided and unnecessary. MIsguided because it still chooses to celebrate a European (albeit an ally of indigenous people), and unnecessary because there are already alternatives to Columbus Day in this hemisphere which do center on indigenous people and their descendents: Native American Day in South Dakota, Dia de la Raza in many parts of Latin America (celebrates meztizos more than indigenous, but still leagues ahead of lionizing Columbus), and, my favorite, the Day of Indigenous Resistance in Venezuela. The idea of a Day of Indigenous Resistance is especially important, because it not only acknowledges the historical experience of indigenous peoples, but gives us an opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate modern-day indigenous struggles as well.

  5. says

    My father and I have an “agree to disagree” policy over the Knights of Columbus. He still likes to support them, but he knows that while I usually love cooking for his church (and my old church), I refuse to pitch in for anything run by the K of C. The members of the local chapter are nice enough…but my issue is they don’t do anything that other orgs also do, and the organization has a nasty history, and still supports some nasty causes (like homophobia).

    My father is a good man, but sometimes I don’t think he understands how he’s supporting institutional rot.

  6. Chiroptera says

    You know, if it really is important to celebrate the European “Age of Discovery” and to pick an Italian to do so, I suggest Galileo Galilei Day.

  7. says

    And it’s Thanksgiving, here a wee bit further north. Thankfully, Cristofero isn’t one of our Superheroes like y’all from south of the border, so we just have a nice turkey, and enjoy the leaves turning, and shit.

    That’s not to say we don’t have our own racist superheroes, they just don’t include yer buddy Cris.

  8. mnb0 says

    “I hereby celebrate Bartoleme Day”
    The descendants of the Surinamese slaves will appreciate that. Everyone in Suriname knows that De las Casas opposed the slavery of the Indegenous People because they were too weak. So in 1516 he proposed to transport Africans to the America’s instead – they were stronger. We know the results.
    To his credit I must add that De las Casas deeply regretted that proposal later in his life.
    Still no, the citizens of Suriname won’t join you. We don’t celebrate Columbus Day either of course.

  9. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Lief Ericson’s day maybe?

    See :


    @2. brucegee1962 : “When Neil Armstrong died, I heard a strong argument that the day should be changed to honor him.”/i>

    I second that suggestion and think it should be globe wide because Neil Armstrong and Apollo did “come in peace” for all Humanity – paraphrasing to bring the meaning of the words into synch with modern language.

    Yes, there was the whole space race component but it was still peaceful and Apollo brought back knowledge and shared wonders with us all.

  10. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Hah, of course SteveoR would take the oppurtunity to advocate for more recognition of white people.

  11. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ ^ Dissoniyak : Do you think white people who achieve things should be ignored and denied recognition just because they’re white then?

    You missed the point and attribited malice and false reasoning to me. I am unsurprised.

  12. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Thanks stevie, I’ve learned a lot about how the white supremacist mind operates from reading you.

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