Christopher Columbus, who died in 1506 just a few years after his first voyage to America, is reviled by historical revisionists and liberals who claim that he symbolizes racism as practiced by European and American whites. On Wednesday, a bronzed plaster statue of the Italian navigator was found beheaded in Columbus Park in Yonkers, New York. The head of the vandalized monument was discovered next to a plastic bag at Columbus Memorial Park near the Bronx.

While police are investigating the incident and admit that it may be related to the various protests all over the country over Confederate monuments. However, vandals have targeted statues of other figures such as Joan of Arc and George Washington.  Protests have prompted public officials to remove statues, especially those related to the Confederacy. Some statues have been vandalized: a statue of a Confederate that stood outside a courthouse in Durham, South Carolina, was torn down by protesters, while a 225-year-old monument to Columbus was destroyed by vandals in Baltimore.

Some groups are demanding that the iconic statue of Columbus be removed from Columbus Circle in New York City. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is reviewing the proposal to remove what some regard as a  "symbol of hate." So far, the Columbus statue has stood in the eponymous circle in Manhattan for over a century. Recently, leftist and American Indian advocates gathered the circle. Some bore placards that read: "Columbus didn't discover America: he invaded it." Protesters claim that the monument is but a tribute to genocide and racism. A group of Italian Americans donated the 76-foot statue to the city in 1892.

In a debate with Democrat rival Sal Albanese, De Blasio -- who is running for re-election in November -- said, "We have to look at everything here." He has not had ready answers to questions as to the future of several city streets whose names offend black Democrats, or to monuments to Ulysses S. Grant, a Civil War hero and Republican president. Albanese warned that New York faces a “slippery slope” by taking down Columbus. “He said Confederate statues that were reminders of slavery and racism deserved to be banned, but, do we remove statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?”

For his part, De Blasio -- a descendant of Italian immigrants -- vows to march in this year's Columbus Day parade.



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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