Egyptian Weekly Newspaper, Al-Ahram, covers KKKolumbus Day:
Burying Columbus in Palestine
Indigenous movements in the 21st century understand that the struggle is not about gaining access, but defeating domination. Will the Palestinians take heed, asks Bassem Ahmed*
For more than a decade now, thousands of people in Denver, Colorado, have been spending the first weekend of October in the streets both celebrating and protesting. This year was no exception. Crowds from different national and ethnic backgrounds came out to participate in the Four Directions March; a celebration organised by the Transform Columbus Day Alliance (TCDA), an umbrella group of grassroots organisations that envision a world freed of Columbus’s legacy. Afterwards they took to the streets to protest and block the “Convoy of Conquest”, the name they use to label the Columbus Day Parade, and demand a change of the name of this official holiday. As usual, scores of protesters were arrested for violating the legally sanctioned “right” of the parade organisers to “honour their hero”.
What is this fuss all about? After all, wasn’t Columbus, as we were all (mis)educated, a great explorer who “discovered” the “New World” in 1492, the same year that Arab rule in Andalusia came to an end? It is quite striking that Arab commentators who lament the latter often celebrate the former without trying to further interrogate the significance of this coincidence. “Objective” history books usually focus on Columbus’s skills (didn’t he think he was sailing to India?) and resilience. The ensuing systematic destruction of indigenous societies, the establishment of a transatlantic slave trade, and the exploitation of the wealth and resources of the so-called New World are minor details that more often than not go unmentioned.
It is precisely this marginalised narrative that the TCDA wants to bring to the fore. For protesters in Denver, Columbus’s trips and crimes were the opening act in the process that led to the crystallisation of a system of domination that subjected non-white peoples to the power of Europeans…