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Fun with numbers

Friday, Feb 28, 2020

* WILL

Chicago’s public schools will no longer observe Columbus Day, replacing that October school holiday with Indigenous Peoples Day. The decision by the Chicago Board of Education has aroused the ire of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans. Its president, Sergio Giangrande, on Thursday called the decision a “slap in the face” of the more than 500,000 Italian Americans in Chicago. Grande says his group, which sponsors the city’s annual Columbus Day parade, is moving to reverse the school district’s decision. The five-to-two decision by the Chicago Board of Education follows similar efforts elsewhere, including South Dakota, to recognize the negative effect of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the western hemisphere on the indigenous population.

Um, that 500,000 number is for the entire Chicagoland area, not the city itself. The Illinois portion of the Chicago region is about 8.63 million people, so they’re just under 6 percent of the population. Just 10.3 percent of CPS students are white, and it stands to reason that far fewer are Italian-Americans. That’s not meant to downplay the role of Italian-Americans in society, it’s just pointing out that the number used by Mr. Giangrande and repeated in several news outlets is inflated.

* Meanwhile…


* There’s obviously a strong feeling of entitlement by most ethnicities for “their” holiday, which is reflected in this comment…


To be fair, Sposato said “The Polish” and “the Irish,” so it’s kind hard to say this was racist. But that’s beside the point. People get all fired up about “their” holiday, so none of this is particularly surprising.

* As an aside, I have German ancestry. “We” have a “day,” but it’s not a “no-work” holiday, even though almost 20 percent of Illinoisans report German ancestry.

I’ve often wondered who should be chosen to celebrate on a German-American holiday. Albert Einstein comes to mind. Any musings from you?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

52 Comments
  1. - Oak Parker - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:14 am:

    Eisenhower Day?


  2. - Ok - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:17 am:

    ummm… maybe skip the Germans.


  3. - OneMan - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:21 am:

    == I’ve often wondered who should be chosen to celebrate on a German-American holiday ==

    Everyone’s German Grandma.


  4. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:23 am:

    I’m fine with groups having their day, but don’t believe any should get a day off for it. St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo don’t. St. Joseph’s Day seems like a good alternative where Italian pride is prominent. As for the German one, Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Hans Gruber, take your pick. /s


  5. - Huh? - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:24 am:

    Just as long as they don’t touch Casimir Pulaski day. Need a day to celebrate the hero relative.


  6. - twowaystreet - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:24 am:

    Hmmm… I don’t remember at any point thinking of Columbus Day as a day to celebrate Italian heritage. Is this actually a thing in Italian-American communities?


  7. - SweetLou86 - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:25 am:

    I nominate whoever organized the Lager Beer Riots of 1855


  8. - NIU Grad - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:25 am:

    Lincoln Square annually celebrates “Frederick Von Steuben Day”

    Maybe it’s my regional preference, but I wouldn’t mind a “De Kalb Day”…


  9. - Fayette County - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:25 am:

    Let’s have Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben Day. A Revolutionary War hero that we all can celebrate.


  10. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:26 am:

    Baron von Steuben - for multiple reasons.


  11. - anon2 - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:27 am:

    John Peter Altgeld, who was born in Germany, and is considered one of the better Illinois governors. A leading Progressive, Gov. Altgeld spearheaded the nation’s most progressive child labor and occupational safety laws, appointed women to important positions in the state government, and vastly increased state funding for education, per Wikipedia. He is most remembered for pardoning the three surviving men convicted in the 1886 Haymarket bombing.”After reviewing their cases, he concluded, as have subsequent scholars, that there had been a serious miscarriage of justice in their prosecutions. Altgeld concluded that the trial had taken place in such an atmosphere of prejudice that the sentences were not credible. As a result of his decision to pardon the three surviving men, he came under intense attack.” He lost the next election.


  12. - Cubs in '16 - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:30 am:

    The Scorpions


  13. - Some Anonymous Dude (S.A.D.) - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:33 am:

    Oktober Fest? Don’t we already have a month? Can we have a W.A.S.P. Day? Or is that pretty much everyday.


  14. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:40 am:

    ==Any musings from you? ==

    1) Don’t attached ethnic heritage to a person. Because, when it turns out that person wasn’t perfect, you run into problems.

    2) Don’t expect to get your ethnic heritage day off. Most people don’t get a day off to celebrate their ethnic heritage, why should you?

    3) Maybe we should have one day-off holiday each month. We could designate it for a person or thing we want to celebrate or we could just call it “June Day” or “September Day.”


  15. - Nick - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:42 am:

    What I don’t get about this is that Columbus was a genocidal rapist who never even ventured on the continental united states. Why would you want to celebrate him versus literally anyone else you could find?


  16. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:43 am:

    ===Is this actually a thing in Italian-American communities? ===

    Um, where do you live?


  17. - The 647 - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:45 am:

    Re: Columbus. Maybe his name could be replaced with Enrico Fermi. Fermi was born 9/29 so the date kind of works and he has ties to the Chicago area.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:46 am:

    ===Is this actually a thing in Italian-American communities? ===

    Whew. Where to begin…


  19. - Northsider - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:47 am:

    Ald. Sposato also starts foaming at the mouth when proposals are floated to not name a Chicago street for a fascist. Good to know where he chooses to stand.


  20. - Captain Obvious - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:49 am:

    I’ve always considered Columbus Day as celebrating the discovery of the new world, not necessarily Columbus himself. So how about we call it Discovery Day (invasion day if you are indigenous) and call it good.


  21. - Tom Willis - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:50 am:

    Columbus Day has been a federal, legal holiday since 1968, championed by Congressman Frank Annunzio.

    How and why do states and cities have legal means to rescind a federal holiday? In school, we were taught federal law trumps (nothing to do with Donald) state, county and city law.


  22. - Bobby McGee - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:50 am:

    Von Steuben is already celebrated in the Ferris Buhler movie, so go with that.


  23. - So_Ill - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:52 am:

    David Hasselhoff day.


  24. - Proud Sucker - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:55 am:

    How about Senator Blutarsky Day?


  25. - Froganon - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:56 am:

    Alexander von Humboldt was a Prussian (a German state) polymath, geographer, naturalist, explorer and proponent of Romantic philosophy and science. Humboldt Park in Chicago and the Humboldt Current are named after him. He was born in 1769 and died in 1859. He influenced Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, Simone Bolivar and numerous others. Read all about him in The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf. His birth was celebrated around the world 100 years after the fact. New York City held a ticker tape parade to mark it. He was an utterly amazing man.


  26. - thoughts matter - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:58 am:

    I’m with pot calling kettle on this topic.

    We don’t need to be celebrating one person with a holiday ever year for decades.

    Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving all celebrate either large groups of people, an important historical event or an entire country. Christmas is an important holiday to a large group of people, but other groups could decide to celebrate their own religion on that same calendar day. Hanukkah and Kwanzaa also celebrate in December. Keep the number of holidays, but make them celebrate a group. Indigenous people, immigrant people, Presidents’ Day, Civil Rights Day.

    Not sure what New Years celebrates as opposed to too hungover to get out of bed day.


  27. - Benjamin - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 12:00 pm:

    I’ve always thought memorials for historic figures should be judged by their primary accomplishment. Columbus’ accomplishment was making contact between the Old World and New, and that’s worth celebrating. Conversely, someone like Jefferson Davis is only noteworthy for his leadership of the Confederacy, clearly a bad thing, so he deserves nothing.)

    Italian-Americans adopted Columbus as a kind of secular patron in the 19th century as a way of staking their claim to having a place in the United States, at a time when many thought people of Southern European ancestry were genetically inferior. “If it weren’t for Italians,” they argued, “none of us would be here.”

    I can see the logic in removing Columbus Day as a paid holiday, and I can see the logic in having an Indigenous Peoples Day, but Columbus Day has value and should stick around. (Also, why not give Native Americans their own day at some other time of year? We have precious few federal holidays as it is compared to other countries.)


  28. - Jibba - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 12:01 pm:

    Casmir, St. Patrick…talking about missing the relationship between Columbus and indigenous peoples.


  29. - ChrisB - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 12:04 pm:

    At the risk of getting banned, I think a lot more people in IL are going to be repurposing 4/20 this year.

    But seriously, don’t celebrate that guy.


  30. - Professor - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 12:04 pm:

    The recognition of Columbus Day gives young children a chance to think about history, about what was going on, worldwide, in 1492. The European struggles and the advancements in navigation and the alteration of our concept of just about everything. It was, and is, a big deal.Don’t take this away.


  31. - Monadnock Pigeon - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 12:06 pm:

    The UK has a Spring Bank Holiday and a Summer Bank Holiday. Let’s follow their lead, and add holidays celebrating what we all most sincerely believe in and identify with, money.


  32. - Leatherneck - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 12:07 pm:

    Speaking of Casimir Pulaski Day, in lieu of celebrating his March birthday, celebrate “General Pulaski Memorial Day” on Oct. 11. The anniversary of his 1777 death from wounds suffered at the Siege of Savannah.

    If Oct. 11 falls on a Monday, it falls on the 2nd Monday in October.

    Hence, simply replace Columbus Day with Pulaski Memorial Day:

    https://nationaldaycalendar.com/general-pulaski-memorial-day-october-11/


  33. - LakeCo - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 12:09 pm:

    =I’ve always considered Columbus Day as celebrating the discovery of the new world, not necessarily Columbus himself. So how about we call it Discovery Day (invasion day if you are indigenous) and call it good.=
    First of all, Columbus didn’t “discover” anything - the islands he landed on were already populated.” The idea of a white explorer “discovering” an inhabited place is highly Eurocentric.
    Second, Columbus’s arrival on this side of the Atlantic unleashed war, disease, and genocide on the native populations, so a lot of people don’t see that as much of a reason for celebration…


  34. - SOIL M - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 12:11 pm:

    Adolph Busch Day


  35. - Pundent - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 12:21 pm:

    =Maybe his name could be replaced with Enrico Fermi.=

    As hero’s go, you really can’t beat Enrico Palazzo.


  36. - Chito - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 12:27 pm:

    = We don’t need to be celebrating one person with a holiday ever year for decades.=
    Anyone else hear the dog whistle?


  37. - muon - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 12:39 pm:

    I was going to suggest John Altgeld as a German immigrant with a significant Illinois legacy, but anon2 @11:27 already did with a pretty good summary. I’ll second that motion, and add that his legacy includes buildings at state universities that bear his name (NIU, SIUC, UIUC) or another name (EIU, ISU) and are famous for their castle-like appearance.


  38. - thoughts matter - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 12:55 pm:

    Reposting under my actual commenting handle. Got too annoyed with chito to remember to type my name in.

    = We don’t need to be celebrating one person with a holiday ever year for decades.=
    Anyone else hear the dog whistle?

    Sorry to disappoint Chito. On my list of holidays on my wall are 4 paid holidays that honor a specific person. MLK, Lincoln, Washington, and Columbus. I listed 4 replacements that honor 2 of these 4, combine two more into 1 and added Indigenous people. I meant no respect to MLK ( presuming that what you are insinuating).

    Oh. I also apologize for my spelling error.


  39. - Sayitaintso - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 12:57 pm:

    This brings back the “Soprano” episode where Tony’s crew got into it with Native Americans protesting against Columbus Day. Everything you want to know about in life is in the “Soprano’s”


  40. - Not a Billionaire - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 1:15 pm:

    Being of German Jewish ancestry whose mother got out like Einstein I love an Einstein day.


  41. - MeatandTaters - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 1:26 pm:

    - highly Eurocentric -

    All of the Western Hemisphere would not exist in its present state without Western European influence, So I’m not thinking Eurocentric is a bad thing.


  42. - HangingOn - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 1:55 pm:

    I personally like to celebrate Columbus Day by wandering aimlessly in the store looking for the spices aisle.

    But seriously, what I never understood was my daughter gets Columbus Day off and has to go to school on Veteran’s Day. When there are parades and things.


  43. - pool boy - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 1:55 pm:

    I do like Albert, but I’m going with Francis of Paola.


  44. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 1:56 pm:

    As a person who always stated that the Berlin Wall would come down and Germany would be reunited while nobody except my German/Australia Mother believed it too, I have always had great pride in my German ancestry. I think Einstein is the perfect choice.

    I also like Von Steuben

    We could celebrate both. We have from mid September to mid October. This is a bonus for me as Octoberfest is always in full swing by my September Birthday.


  45. - Evanston - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 1:58 pm:

    As a person who always stated that the Berlin Wall would come down and Germany would be reunited while nobody except my German/Australia Mother believed it too, I have always had great pride in my German ancestry. I think Einstein is the perfect choice.

    I also like Von Steuben

    We could celebrate both. We have from mid September to mid October. This is a bonus for me as Octoberfest is always in full swing by my September Birthday.


  46. - Evanston - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 2:01 pm:

    German/Austrian


  47. - Captain Obvious - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 2:02 pm:

    Lake Co - I am well aware that Columbus was not first to the new world. However, it was only after his voyage that knowledge of the new world became more widespread. In that sense it was quite a discovery, for good or for ill. How bout instead of saying celebrate, we say commemorate? Would that assuage your sensibilities?


  48. - Evanston - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 2:03 pm:

    “- Ok - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 11:17 am:

    ummm… maybe skip the Germans.”

    Grow up


  49. - anon - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 2:12 pm:

    I presume by “indigenous peoples,” they simply mean people who were in North America prior to Columbus’ arrival? Because those peoples were not indigenous (in the way flora or fauna are), they discovered the land, just earlier. (And they did so in different time periods, apparently removing those who arrived before them).


  50. - OneMan - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 2:39 pm:

    == Not sure what New Years celebrates as opposed to too hungover to get out of bed day ==

    New Years is basically the single holiday that the entire world celebrates. It’s a market holiday just about everyplace.


  51. - revvedup - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 2:44 pm:

    For the German holiday: Elke Sommers Day.
    Actually Columbus Day is propaganda, since the now USA had already been “discovered” and inhabited by the American Indians long before Columbus. See also the Indians who discovered and claimed Italy in 1973 (http://astro1.panet.utoledo.edu/~ljc/disc_italy.html) and the book Lies Across America, pp. 74-75.


  52. - Papa2008 - Friday, Feb 28, 20 @ 4:01 pm:

    Johannes Gutenberg. He of the printing press. Without him we have a difficult time reading about everyone else.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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