In an effort to fight the hateful rhetoric of neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan in the wake of the violent protests in Charlottesville earlier this month, many protesters and government officials have called for the removal of Confederate monuments throughout the country. But for some, Confederate monuments represent just the tip of the iceberg — and they are actually doing the very thing the KKK worked for a century ago.
Christopher Columbus is also on the growing list of targeted historical figures. There are calls to remove statues of Columbus in several cities — even Columbus, Ohio — as well as petitions to Columbus Day celebrations. And in a move rich with tragic irony, vandals — dressed in the now familiar dark hooded garments worn by Antifa and its allies — defaced the oldest monument in the country dedicated to Christopher Columbus in Baltimore on Sunday night.
In doing so, those in the dark hoods inadvertently did the bidding of those in white hoods, who for years sought to expunge statues and celebrations of the Italian Catholic explorer who sailed under Spain’s banner, precisely because he was Italian and Catholic.
In the 1920s, from coast to coast, members of the Ku Klux Klan opposed Columbus. In Richmond, they tried to stop the erection of a Columbus monument. In Pennsylvania, they burned fiery crosses to threaten those celebrating Columbus. The Klan newspaper, The American Standard, attacked honoring Columbus — on the basis that a holiday for him was some sort of papal plot.