Columbus Day Celebrates an Ongoing Threat to American Democracy

Columbus Day Celebrates an Ongoing Threat to American Democracy

In his latest Substack column, “Columbus Day Celebrates an Ongoing Threat to American Democracy,” PRRI President and Founder Robert P. Jones scrutinizes the continued observance of Columbus Day and the endorsement of the logic of the Doctrine of Discovery inherent in it.

Jones writes that the anti-democratic orientation of the Doctrine of Discovery is still among us today, with 30% of Americans agreeing with its central tenet: “America was intended by God to be a promised land where European Christians could set an example for the rest of the world.” To finally embrace our identity as a pluralistic democracy, he writes, we cannot abide an ongoing celebration of a worldview that erodes that commitment.

More than a dozen states and over 130 cities have adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a holiday, the result of a three-decades long movement led by Indigenous people. “Columbus Day celebrates the colonizer and the religious worldview that authorized the violence unleashed in his wake, but Indigenous Peoples’ Day points Americans toward our higher principles.”

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Tracing the Origins of American Racism as a Path to Healing

At The New York Times, Ned Blackhawk, a member of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians and author The Rediscovery of America reviewed The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy. “For many minority communities,” Blackhawk writes, “myths of cultural superiority continue to impair racial progress.” The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy shows how countless Indigenous and African American lives have been irrevocably harmed throughout the past five centuries and suggests that the nation can never fully achieve its aspirations while living with falsehoods about its past.

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Read PRRI’s full report, “A Christian Nation? Understanding the Threat of Christian Nationalism to American Democracy and Culture” here.