Celebrating Columbus, and Diversity

Lately I have been puzzled by the hostility of some of my "politically correct" acquaintances toward Italian culture in general and Christopher Columbus in particular. The editorial "The Politically Correct Columbus," June 24, corroborates my suspicion that movements now exist to demean the Brave Navigator, and other intrepid explorers of the New World, by absurdly dismissing them as "greedy imperialists."As the author points out, such a limited view of history ignores all sorts of complexities. Behind much of it is the troubling notion that civilization is bad and oppressive, while its opposite is good and liberating. The brutality in our streets, our soaring illegitimacy rate, the unyielding ignorance and illiteracy of our young people - how many of these problems stem from this one delusion that is continually urged upon us through so many different avenues in our society? Violet M. O'Valle, Arlington, Texas

The editorial is an excellent expression of what 1992 should be about. We feel that 1992 can be a national history lesson from which we all learn a little more about the multiple peoples who have come to America, enriching our nation and making us a strong and vibrant land. Frank D. Stella, Washington The National Italian American Foundation

The editorial argues for "disinterested scholarship and public education about all the aspects of Europe's encounter with the Americas." One wonders who will provide the disinterested scholarship - have the teachings up to now really been free of the biases of race, religion, and social class? The author's main contention seems to be that revisionist "critiques of the exploration and colonization of the New World half a millennium later are a blinkered application of contemporary values to long-ago events." Such events should be evaluated in "the contexts of the social, political, economic, and religious culture of the times." Inherent in such a view is the notion that a moral context is irrelevant or redundant. Such an argument seeks to denigrate or disregard the validity of the various historical struggles for justice and a human dignity for all regardless of race, ethnicity, or sex, for example such milestone achievements as women's suffrage, the abolition of slavery, and the right of workers to form unions. Peter Connolly, Boston

Hopes for Eritrea The passionate opinion-page article "An Eritrean Exile Dares to Hope Again," June 24, brought involuntary tears to my eyes, but not only because of the hopelessness of the author's forced separation from loved ones and his native land. In the spring of 1990 I taught a debate class in which my students and I researched the problems in the Horn of Africa. None of us had realized that the Eritrean people had been mercilessly bombed during the daytime and that many were forced to live in dugout caves underground, sleeping during the bombing hours and rising to work and play only at night in underground factories and schools. We should have known that no famine relief would be allowed to reach these isolated people. Though school is out for the summer, I will call my students and have them read the article so they can share the author's joy that this horror has finally ended for these "survivors." Susan E. Getzschman, St. Louis

Responsible fathers and husbands The editorial "Family Tragedy," June 21, while deploring the "alternative lifestyle" of single female parenthood, says nothing of how our society, through films and the media, teaches our young men to expect to have sexual freedom without affection for their partner or responsibility for the consequences of their actions. What is needed is a re-stressing of the masculine maturity that is compatible with fatherhood: responsibility, caring, and cooperation in a society that encourages the opposite. If the highest birthrate increase for unmarried women is among mature women in their 20s, it may be because the "men" they date are too immature to be a father and husband. It is not merely the "expendable father," or the idea of the super-feminist rejection of the male, but that some of us feel a family without a husband is better than a family with an abusive or immature husband, or forgoing motherhood. Unfortunately, our sons may never see the "positive" role models that they need to become caring an d loving men. Nancy O'Connor, Nanty Glo, Pa.

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