Posted by: Nanook | January 17, 2011

Happy Irony Day

Christopher Columbus (bless his heart) doesn’t deserve his own holiday. In fact, it’s difficult to think of any other historical figure who has achieved more lasting fame while being completely incompetent.

Difficult, but not impossible

Columbus basically spent eight years floating around the Caribbean Sea, convinced that he was next to India. He never figured out that Cuba is actually an island, and he never came close to setting foot on (or even suspecting the existence of) the enormous landmass to the north that every elementary school child is told he discovered. He also filled his ships with iron pyrite (thinking it was gold) and tree bark (thinking it was cinnamon).

But Americans love to celebrate mediocrity, so for most of the United States the second Monday in October is devoted to him. But not in South Dakota, where I grew up. In South Dakota, we celebrated the official state holiday of Native American Day.

South Dakota (bless its heart) doesn’t offer much, but I was always proud of it for this.

Eat shit, North Dakota!

Of course, it would have been stupid to try to celebrate both Native American Day and Columbus Day at the same time. Since the basic ideals commemorated by each holiday are so antithetical to each other, why would anyone even consider celebrating both? I mean, on one had you have a celebration of indigenous people and their culture, and on the other you have a celebration of conquest and brutal enslavement. What kind of moron would think you should celebrate both days?

Anyway, now I’m in Arkansas.

The other day, my sister received this email from her boss: “This is a reminder that [we] will be closed on Monday, January 17 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert E. Lee Birthdays.”

Yes. Arkansas (along with Alabama and Mississippi–two states everyone wants to be associated with), actually celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee on the same day.

Which, on the surface, doesn’t seem to make much sense. I mean, on the one hand, you have a modern-day hero, a clergyman who used non-violent methods to fight for (and eventually die for) the principle that all men are created equal.

And on the other you have Robert E. Lee: defender of slavery and a harsh critic of abolitionism, a slave-owner who brutally punished those who sought their rightful freedom. And let’s not forget that Lee was actually a traitor to his country, choosing to align himself with the eventual losers because he believed in the “pure, Christian, white commonwealth” he believed the Confederacy was meant to become.

I can’t imagine that either one of these guys would be happy sharing their holiday with the other. Smashing these two guys’ legacies together… It’s like a bad sitcom.

Albeit one that I would still watch every week.

Rob was all like "Let's play baseball and drink some wine," but Marty was all "no way. I'm going to change my tie and then finish dusting."



  1. Thanks for giving props to the 605…every once in a while we get something right here…although the presence of Kristi Noem in Congress doesn’t really serve as great evidence of that.

  2. It wasn’t from my boss but human resources. But they were just calling the holiday what the state recognizes the holiday to be. Go south Dakota.

  3. One of the most damning biographies of Lee is one that tries so hard to fix his halo.

    We now have a biography of Lee, written by a Lee worshiper, who shows that Lee tortured slave girls, as young as 14 years old, and screamed at them DURING their torture. He then sold their white looking infants.

    Much of this comes — astonishingly — from Lee’s own handwritten account books, which have only recently been opened to a few scholars. These papers, BY LEE HIMSELF, show a vastly different slave owner than anyone dreamed of.

    Lee’s slaves not only hated him, they rebelled before the CIvil War. Lee’s slaves ran away en masse due to his cruelty — probably because he regularly sold the infants born to the slaves, because he was forbidden by a will from selling the slaves themselves.

    See “Reading the Man” by Elizabeth Pryor. She tries so so hard to excuse or minimize his blame, but she shows astonishing things — like Lee kept close track of slave girls, and paid six times his normal bounty, for the capture of one specific girl, who had a white looking baby.

    When he got this girl back, he taunted her, had her tortured while he screamed at her, and then apparently sold the white looking baby.

    Who on earth tortures young girls anyway, much less screams at them during the torture?? THen he SELLS her baby!

    Remember, this comes from a Lee worshiper, trying VERY hard to excuse it.

  4. Perhaps it was HIS white looking baby and baby-momma he was trying to punish?

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