Knights of Columbus warn that Joe Salazar’s Columbus Day ban would fulfill Klan’s plan

State Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, speaks at the Colorado Democratic Party's reorganization meeting on Saturday, March 11 2017, at the Marriott Denver City Center. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

State Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, speaks at the Colorado Democratic Party’s reorganization meeting on Saturday, March 11 2017, at the Marriott Denver City Center. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

The world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization is coming out swinging against a bill sponsored by state Rep. Joe Salazar to cancel Columbus Day as a state holiday in Colorado.

The Knights of Columbus — named in honor of explorer Christopher Columbus — is opposing House Bill 1327, saying the legislation is based on “fake history” that originated with the Ku Klux Klan’s animosity toward Catholics.

The bill, which would allow state employees a floating day off in October, passed its first committee appearance last week and is scheduled for what promises to be a contentious hearing Wednesday afternoon before the House Local Government Committee.

A similar Salazar-sponsored bill that would have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day failed last year by a wide margin in a Democratic-controlled House committee amid complaints it would remove a holiday that honored Italian Americans in favor of one honoring Native Americans. Salazar, a Thornton Democrat, disputed this argument but noted that this year’s bill should lay that controversy to rest, adding that he’s confident Colorado’s Native American community doesn’t want to take over Columbus Day.

“Nearly a century ago, the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado targeted Catholics, including Italian-Americans,” Knights of Columbus Spokesman Isaac Cuevas said in a statement. “One of the Klan’s tactics throughout the United States was the denigration of Christopher Columbus and the attempted suppression of the holiday in his honor.”

The bill includes a lengthy section that reads, “The Columbus voyage triggered one of history’s greatest slave trades, the pillaging of Earth’s natural resources, and a level of inhumanity toward indigenous peoples that still exists.” It also includes a horrific excerpt from the journals of Bartolomé de las Casas, a Spanish priest, who described how Columbus’ men would hack pregnant women and children to pieces “as if dealing with sheep in a slaughter house.”

Cuevas dismissed arguments in support of the bill, saying some have been “tinged with offensive anti-Catholic overtones” even though advocates are calling it a “progressive” move. “In fact,” he said, “it is regressive as it takes us back to what the Klan outlined in the 1920s in order to promote ethnic and religious resentment and marginalize and intimidate people with different religious beliefs and ethnic backgrounds. We urge the swift rejection of this bill in any future hearings.”

“Scholars have long shown that de las Casas was prone to hyperbole and exaggeration, and the bill does not take into account recent scholarship on de las Casas or Columbus,” the Knights of Columbus wrote in a recent email to members. “The legacy and accomplishments of Christopher Columbus deserve to be celebrated. He was a man ahead of his time and a fearless explorer and brilliant navigator whose daring discovery changed the course of history. Columbus has frequently been falsely blamed for the actions of those who came after him and is the victim of horrific slanders concerning his conduct.”

Salazar told The Colorado Statesman when he introduced the bill that discussions with members of Colorado’s Italian-American community had reached an impasse this year.

“I want to be very clear,” he said. “As long as I remain a legislator, I’m willing to meet with the Italian community to do an Italian-American heritage day. I’ve always been willing to do that. But we just can’t have Columbus Day.”

In 1907, Colorado became the first state to recognize Columbus Day as a permanent holiday, although it had been widely celebrated around the country for some time and gained particular attention on the 400th anniversary of the mariner’s voyage in 1892. It became a federal holiday in 1937. South Dakota became the first state to cancel the holiday in 1990, and numerous states and cities have followed suit, although some instead celebrate both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday in October. Last year, Denver, Boulder and Durango established official recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

— ernest@coloradostatesman.com

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3 Responses to Knights of Columbus warn that Joe Salazar’s Columbus Day ban would fulfill Klan’s plan

  1. Juan Marin May 13, 2017 at 2:12 pm #

    Hispanics discovered America in 1492. They also were the first Europeans to explore the vastness of what is now the United States including the bulk of the Western Hemisphere. This man Salazar seems to be a half caste of diluted Hispanic blood and therefore of little interest in the Hispanic legacy of discovery and conquest. The best way to deal with functional illiterates is to direct them to scholarly literature and hope that by intelligent sources of information he may do some soul searching as a means to atoning for his patent ignorance.

  2. Juan Marin May 13, 2017 at 2:16 pm #

    Hispanics discovered America. This is easily corroborated by the historical evidence. Columbus Crew Lists – University of Florida
    https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/caribarch/columbus.htm
    What follows is a listing of crew members by vessel along with a separate … de Colón en 1492″, … The Log of Christopher Columbus (Camden …

  3. Juan Marin May 13, 2017 at 2:23 pm #

    Hispanics discovered America. This is easily corroborated by the historical evidence. Columbus Crew Lists – University of Florida
    https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/caribarch/columbus.htm
    What follows is a listing of crew members by vessel along with a separate … de Colón en 1492″, … The Log of Christopher Columbus (Camden …

    Salazar is an European name that came to America with the Hispanic discovery and conquest following 1492. European names are denoted by the use of heraldry which was a uniquely European art form’Salazar Coat of Arms / Salazar Family Crest
    http://www.4crests.com/salazar-coat-of-arms.html
    Salazar Coat of Arms / Salazar Family Crest – The associated coat of arms for this name are recorded in J.B Rietstaps Armorial General. Illustrated by V & H.V Rolland’s.

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