Columbus Day at the Outrage Factory

My pal, Marco Randazza, is pretty keen on Columbus Day.  He’s of Italian heritage, and, well, it’s not as if Italians get a lot of holidays for one of their tribe. Columbus Day is pretty much it.


I’d like to invite anyone whose name ends with a vowel (Persians excluded) to raise their hands, extend their middle fingers, and flip off the Native Americans, the hippies, and everyone else in the International Association of Crybabies who has a piss and a moan about Christopher Columbus.

This is not “indigenous people’s day,” it is not “la dia de la raza” and it isn’t frigging “wear a beret, listen to Joni Mitchell, and wear patchoulli day.”

It’s unclear how Joni Mitchell is to blame, but musical choices are hard to explain. That said, John Oliver asked, “how is this still a thing?”  There is a laundry list of complaints about Columbus, ranging from his “discovering” a place where people already lived, to his personal traits:

Even his most ardent admirers acknowledge that Columbus was self-centered, ruthless, avaricious, and a racist.”

The cite offered about his “most ardent admirers,” U.S, fails to back this up at all, but then, John Oliver agrees, and given his status as a United States historian, who could argue the point?

Winston Churchill said “history is written by the victors.”  And as Marco delicately points out, the “indigenous peoples” didn’t win.

To the Native Americans who have a beef with Columbus Day — suck it. There was a war. You lost. Sorry. Trust me, the Italians know how you feel. We suck at wars. We used to be awesome at them. That ended some time around 400 A.D. Italians are the Chicago Cubs of warfare. (But you’re the Padres)

There are at least two, if not more, perspectives of history, and there is nothing wrong with remembering that the victors’ perspective, where they were the good guys, doing right, doing what they had to do, isn’t the only one. But there has been a paradigm shift, aligned with the cultural shift of the same view, that would rewrite history in accordance with the losers. As if that view is more honest, more worthy. Victimhood has never seen brighter days.

But even the efforts of the Outrage Factory, promoting the interests of victimhood, have been met with mixed success because of an internecine dispute of whose victimhood is the most outrageous.  They’ve even come up with a nifty social media word about it, “whataboutery,” which has become an explanation in itself, shallowness notwithstanding. It’s reminiscent of the simplistic cries over “victim blaming,” a per se rule for the perpetually outraged that ignores the reality that sometimes victims share blame for their complicity in creating their own problems. See “comparative negligence.”

While it’s true that people for whom their conception of social justice informs all can be concerned about multiple outrages at the same time, they have a hierarchy of outrages. It’s unclear whether they take a vote or just see which outrage gets the most Facebook likes, but they huddle up in support of their favored outrage and, unsurprisingly, belittle those lesser outrages that aren’t at the top of their list.

Some believe that the most outrageous outrage is sex discrimination. Others, sexual preference. Some go with rape at home, while others go with the treatment of Palestinians in the middle east. The list seems inexhaustible, but it presents a problem: you can’t go to the mats for everyone. There isn’t enough time. There aren’t enough tears. And, to paraphrase the words of a cisnormative white patriarchal racist, they regret that they have only one life to give to their cause.

What they find unacceptable, each shift at the Outrage Factory, is that other shifts aren’t dedicating every fiber of their being to their favored outrage. How could they be so wrong, so clueless, so evil?  How could any reasonable person not feel as they do?  As is their favorite complaint, it’s so exhausting being right and trying to make the wrong warriors understand they are wrong.

There is a phenomenon that occurs during meetings of grade school committees on special education, where a parent with a child who suffers from disabilities meets with the school-provided parent advocate and explains his child’s issues.

The parent-advocate, often someone who has learned to navigate the system because of personal experience, then trivializes the suffering of the parent in comparison with his child. “What? Your kid has ADHD? Well, boo-fucking-hoo. My kid is blind, has no legs and has been in a vegetative state since he was three. Stop yer whining.”

While the parent-advocate’s child may suffer from far more serious afflictions, it’s not the litmus test by which the parent’s concerns are tested. Each parent gets to focus exclusively on his child’s needs. “So sorry that your kid suffers terribly, but this isn’t about yours. This is about mine.”  The parent is allowed, even if his child isn’t one of the top ten most disabled students ever.

Each of us gets to pick and choose the issues for which we’re willing to go to the mattresses. And some pick none of the above, which is also their right. There is no requirement that they have to justify their choices, and, indeed, there is no reasoning with those whose rationalization is based solely on their feelz. Is breast cancer worse than colon cancer? Is the crucifixion of a teenager in Saudi Arabia more horrible than the murders of unarmed black men in America?

At the Outrage Factory, there are actual answers to these rhetorical questions, because those for whom one issue trumps another are certain they have made the right choice, the only choice, and anyone who doesn’t agree is wrong.  There is no voice more strident than the self-righteous, for they own justice.

Congress made the second Monday in October, today, Columbus Day.  Whether he was a hero or a villain doesn’t change the fact that Marco, and those who share his ancestry, are entitled to this day to celebrate their Italian heritage.  It doesn’t cost those who obsess over Columbus’ victims anything to let Marco have his day.  And, Eurocentric as it may be, he did play a big role in why we’re not walking around in loin cloths and buying Starbucks with wampum.

The workers at the Outrage factory can go back to their screaming over which outrage is the worst tomorrow. Today, the factory is closed for a national holiday.

38 thoughts on “Columbus Day at the Outrage Factory

  1. Keith

    What about those honestly trying to get the history right? I’m not talking about the never ending struggle to see who can claim victimhood, but the desire by some to review sources like Bartolome de las Casas or Columbus’ own writings to see if those victors helped themselves to an extra serving of historical fiction?

    Just because the victors get to write history doesn’t mean it becomes the gospel. And just because there’s not enough time or ability to track down and correct every historically inflated victory doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to do so here.

    Should the fact that th perpetual outrage factory latches on to Howard Zinn negate that changing understanding from his work because Congress made a holiday?

    walking around in loin cloths and buying Starbucks with wampum

    I clearly haven’t been to Foxwoods in a while.

    1. SHG Post author

      What makes you think that those searching for “truth” aren’t well-intended, “honestly trying to get the history right”? I don’t doubt their good intentions. Many a road has been paved with them.

  2. Donald Dunbar

    Well, in C.Columbus’ own words:

    “While I was in the boat, I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me. When I had taken her to my cabin she was naked—as was their custom. I was filled with a desire to take my pleasure with her and attempted to satisfy my desire. She was unwilling, and so treated me with her nails that I wished I had never begun. But—to cut a long story short—I then took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly, and she let forth such incredible screams that you would not have believed your ears. Eventually we came to such terms, I assure you, that you would have thought that she had been brought up in a school for whores.”

    …and it’s like, yeah, buddy’s been dead a long time, and Columbus Day has been a thing for a little while, and yeah we heard certain things about him when he was a kid, certain things that we find admirable–an intrepidness and iconoclasm that are part of the American Soul via Emerson maybe–but also, that guy was, by today’s standards, someone who’d hopefully be tried at The Hague.

    Italians need to celebrate Columbus like they need to celebrate Mussolini. Why not a Lorenzo di Medici Day? Even the Italian Anti-Defamation League (an outrage machine of their own) should pull for it to be renamed Tony Soprano Day–a murderer, yes, but with a much, much smaller body count than Columbus.

    1. SHG Post author

      Even assuming the accuracy of the Michele da Cuneo letter about Columbus, it’s foolish to judge conduct that occurred at one point in human history by standards more than 500 years later. No one would survive such absurdly out-of-context scrutiny. And by “no one,” that would include our conduct today in the eyes of people 500 years from now.

      1. Donald Dunbar

        Sure, but in the brief window of time that it’s our turn to write history, there is an element of judgement that comes into play–what to keep, what to discard, what to refine, etc.. The only things that can seem set in stone right now are the things we let be set in stone, and, as you and P.B.Shelley point out, stone’s not what it’s cut out to be.

        If Columbus didn’t have to be constantly mythologized so we can then throw him into a history sanitary enough for 6-year-olds, well, this wouldn’t matter at all. B.Franklin’s Autobiography is enough of a lie he’d be given the James Frey “A Million Little Pieces” treatment today, and I think he looks great on the hundo. But if Columbus Day is about honoring a guy who is primarily and knowingly responsible for the genocide of the Arawak Indians, and if the argument is that Italians should celebrate their heritage in that same glow, I think they’d be fools to listen to it.

        1. SHG Post author

          Nobody stops people from criticizing, whether it’s Columbus or anyone else. And you’re entitled to think them fools to celebrate the day given his conduct in today’s lens. And they’re entitled to not give a shit what you think. Or what I think, for that matter.

          1. Donald Dunbar

            Agreed, but I do think it’s worth pointing out the difference (if only in degree) between, say, a professor neglecting to give a trigger warning while referencing a book or a subject that not everyone is totally 100% about and a national holiday actively maintained by the federal government honoring a guy who, among some probably admirable qualities (again, the diciness of the historical record!), was most probably a slaver, a rapist, a torturer, and a murderer.

      2. paul

        I agree ( I know my agreement matters deeply to you ) but where is the cutoff? If not 500 years, how about 50? This sounds dangerously close to moral relativism. Its probably lazy of me but its at this point in a debate that i traditionally get entangled in that particular philosophical morass and fail to persuade…

      3. Joseph

        Whose standards should we judge them by? Even today people in various regions of the world hold grossly differing standards of what constitutes appropriate. Or should we just not judge historical figures by any standards at all?

        Sure, Columbus Day is a federal holiday, and thus Italian-Americans (and all people) get the day off to celebrate Columbus. But if the outrage lobby wins and Columbus Day ceases to be a federal holiday (or gets renamed something hilarious), 1. Italian-Americans can continue to celebrate Columbus Day anyway, and 2. it’s hardly as though they’ve been deprived of something that they were entitled to.

        1. SHG Post author

          Based upon last Thursday’s edict from the Outrage Factory, Thomas Jefferson, one of our most revered founding fathers, was a “rapist racist.” And indeed, unlike Columbus, he was unquestionably a slave owner and fathered slave Sally Hemings’ child. There is little doubt that by today’s standards, Jefferson was a racist rapist.

          Are we entitled to judge him? Do we judge him by today’s standards? Your grandparents wouldn’t survive scrutiny under today’s social justice rules. No one would.

      4. Lurker

        The conduct described in the letter was considered, according to both civil and canon law of the time, a serious crime. Relativism does not help here: Columbus and his men were acting in a reprehensible manner, which the contemporary moral understanding did not accept.

    2. Marc Randazza

      Any written records of the murder, by the Indians, of the Spanish that Columbus had to leave behind in “Christmas Town?” No? Oh, that’s right, they didn’t write shit down.

      If you want to plumb out of historical context quotes, I can find plenty of statements by Rabbis that justify anti-semitism. Doesn’t make it so. But, if you wanna play, we can. I’d rather not, since my rhetorical point is made.

      1. Donald Dunbar

        I don’t know man, if you want to tie your cultural heritage to this horse, you’re welcome to. But the rhetorical case you’re making here–the dead people didn’t leave evidence of their own genocide (besides their bodies), and that other people have done bad/weird stuff too!!!–is not really a persuasive case for much… I mean, are you making the case for “justified genocide”?

        To me this “Stop Attacking Columbus” polemic seems of a kind with the Confederate Flag defense: ignoring the perspective that time has given us, ignoring the people who see the symbol as a big ol’ middle finger. I hope that’s not the intent of the holiday, and I hope that’s not your intent in celebrating it, but really, just FYI, the meaning has shifted. In part because of the focal adjustments of time, and in part because the vast majority of white people don’t choose to see indigenous people as cattle anymore.

        Seriously tho: Lorenzo di Medici Day would seem to satisfy most of the meaning you (and a small, I’d bet, minority of Italian Americans) find in Columbus Day, and it’s at least 8x more fun to say.

        1. SHG Post author

          You had to bring the confederate flag into this? Is there no SJW trope beyond the scope of things that seem like the same thing to you?

          The meaning has not shifted. Your meaning has shifted. Most people couldn’t give a shit about your concerns. Don’t let the inherent narcissism of the self-righteous get ahead of you. That’s what the rest of this post is about, even though you’ve fixated on one piece. You are outlier, and your personal outrage doesn’t register at all on most people’s radar.

          1. Donald Dunbar

            I’m trying to be clear:

            1) You can have whatever meaning you want for anything.
            2) You can celebrate Columbus Day however you want.
            3) Based on current info, Columbus is a questionable honoree. Answer that question however you want.
            4) Based on the questionableness of Columbus, it’s reasonable to argue–NOT “required to agree”–that Columbus should not be the subject of a _federal holiday_.

            Y’all frequently make real cogent arguments about the dangers and hypocrisies of the neo-PC, but characterizing arguments against Columbus Day as persecution by the Holy Police dilutes the critique to a grumble comically broad. At best, “Well, it’s a reasonable argument but I’m going to scorn it and everyone who makes it” is stubborn. At worst, it’s the selfsame behavior and mindset you’re trying to call out.

  3. Bruce Coulson

    For a lot of Americans, Columbus Day is just another Monday, like any other. As for Columbus, he was a flawed character (like most of us), but he did accomplish something spectacular and changed history (which is something very few of us get to do), so there’s no harm in celebrating Columbus Day, or taking vicarious pride in his achievements.

  4. John

    You’re conflating Columbus day with Italian heritage day. Marco, and those who share his ancestry, are entitled to celebrate their Italian heritage any day.

        1. SHG Post author

          Nahhhh, not the same moral authority. The censor has no moral authority. They chose what they want to do, having nothing to do with you. You have no moral authority to tell others what they can’t do. I don’t think equality means what you think it does.

          1. John

            You’re conflating criticism with censorship. My singular “vote” doesn’t impose censorship or the tyranny of the masses, only a dissenting opinion. My moral authority stops at myself, as theirs stops with them. They’ve chosen to hitch their “hero” wagon to a slaver and mass murderer, I have not. They may dislike how I describe Columbus, but those are their “feelz” issues, not mine. Others may write silly articles about “our holiday” implying might makes right, while glossing over every substantive fact of the man (not the culture) that is being celebrated, but again “feelz”. Others may support that position and equate the mass murders national holiday are “entitled to this day to celebrate their Italian heritage”. I pointed out that is a fallacy – Italians can hitch their national heritage celebration to anything they want, this day, another day, every day, or nothing at all, whichever they individually choose.

            I also might just be pissed off because I lost my wallet over the weekend, and nothing in CO is open today that will help me regain “my papers”. I feel like I could be deported to a random country any moment.

            Take your pick.

            1. SHG Post author

              Sigh. I asked you if you were entitled to *veto* their choice. You said yes. No wiggling out of it now. You lose.

              Unless this is about your wallet, in which case I feel your pain.

  5. Nigel Declan

    If only all historical figures had been required to wear body cams, surely all such problems would have been solved.

  6. mb

    And we continue to erase the accomplishments of women. Everyone knows Columbus was a woman, born Christina Columbus, and only pretended to be a violent, evil man so that the patriarchy would lend her the boats.

  7. Chuck

    Winners of course write history, but I think falling back on “we won, you lost” as Marco does is shortsighted for the same reason that fans screaming “SCOREBOARD” at halftime can look silly later. After all, if the losers succeed in “rewrit[ing] history in accordance with the losers,” then it seems to me that the losers have won the next round.

    1. Krishna

      Yeah, and for someone who supposedly won, Marco’s crybaby rant does come across being a lot like a poor loser. But like Scott said “Victimhood has never seen brighter days.”

  8. Kathleen Casey

    Columbus was a great man. If not for him there would not have been a civilization available for my ancestors to escape the British. And I wouldn’t be on this continent, or anywhere.

    As for the Empire that the sun never used to set upon, “Take no revenge, I shall repay…” Karma is reliable.

    Nobody could down us, not once Columbus got things started here anyway. He made possible millions of survivors over the generations. So I don’t give a snap of my fingers for his personal conduct.

    St. Joseph’s Day tables are a gift of tradition that Columbus Day is missing. I guess because it is a Holy Day of Obligation. To the Italians. Well most of them. Right Marc?

    1. Keith

      If not for him there would not have been a civilization available for my ancestors to escape the British.

      This gave me a chuckle. Columbus, creator of civilization. Thank goodness he was there for you and your family.

      1. Kathleen Casey

        For you and yours too. Throughout history people in trouble have migrated. Isn’t that true?

        Not only the Caseys and Murrays. And the Hayes, the Frawleys, the Helpines, the Goldens, and the rest among my lineage.

  9. Richard G. Kopf


    Out here, we hate Columbus Day. It is an annual reminder that we will never beat Ohio State in football. It is sad day.

    So, I propose that Congress change Columbus Day to the national holiday (October 3 this year) celebrated in the Motherland, German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit). We could all listen to the music of Wilhelm Richard Wagner, hold hands and pine for the way we were–the nation would be united in victimhood just like the Cornhuskers.

    All the best.


  10. Bruce Godfrey

    He killed; he enslaved; he extracted gold for a monarch under penalty of dismemberment of his tropical tax farm, and he didn’t do these things here.

    Randazza isn’t entitled to a damn thing, except that I refrain from doing to him what Columbus did to others. I will respect Randazza’s life, his liberty, his property and his civil right to participate in a republican form of government on this continent. His precious grasping feelings of Italian pride in a lackey of a Spanish crown – perhaps less respect for those.

    Among killers of Italian heritage, Capone is preferable to Columbus: he murdered fewer, enslaved none, fought rather than served tax authorities and he spent his entire life in this country as a citizen hereof. Happy Capone Day.

    1. SHG Post author

      Aside from your failure to show the humility of recognizing that you’re merely parroting the anti-Colombus stories from some dubious sources, you lack the humility to realize how bad things, as viewed through the lens of today’s SJWs, have benefitted all of us, yourself included. Instead, you make squeaks like college freshman at Randazza, as if you’re doing him a favor?

      I would expect such an infantile comment from some angry little boy. You’re too old to be excused for such pompous self-righteousness.

  11. Dan Hull

    I majored in southern American history (and later Japanese history to get a different perspective) at Duke. I fled the Duke English department and switched majors because the history courses I had dabbled in were better, I thought, for teaching 19-year-olds how to think. In any event, my family here in America is white European English and German. We have been in America nearly 400 years on one side and a mere 265 years on the other. All were devout Protestants or at least claimed to be.

    As lowly English artisans and trades people in the New World we killed–and were killed by, some of us dying very bad deaths–Indians in Massachusetts. In the south. we were at first poor German farmers and eventually owned slaves in Virginia. We freed slaves voluntarily, too–but we might not have but for a move West in one branch.

    All–yes all; no exceptions–white liberal academics and political pundits in 1900 would have been considered racists and in most cases vile racists today. + It would be good to expand our minds a bit. This should not be a difficult concept for bright people in 2015. Time changes what is “offensive, hurtful and wrong.” All who commented here–yes all; no exceptions–will be regarded as racists and in most cases vile racists a hundred years from now. (Especially Greenfield because I’m told that among other things he secretly hates and wants to exterminate all philandering WASP fucks like me and because he heard that I once said to my wife at a Jewish wedding I attended at Tavern on the Green in 1990 that “Muffy, these people really got rhythm.”)

    Anyway I’ll tie my cultural horse to all of the forgoing and honor my “vicious” European ancestors in America. I’m proud of them all. They were doing the best they could with their circumstances. Their parents were different and their own ancestors were different. They were all religious people, for fuck’s sake. And they were creatures and to some extent prisoners of the mores of the time they inhabited–just as we are now.

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