MN’s Christopher Columbus Statue Next to Go?

Photo by Mytos (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

ST. PAUL, Minn. – While much print space and effort has been expended as activists attempt to remove monuments to the Confederacy by any means necessary, unrelated statues are now being targeted.

Controversy over a statue of explorer Christopher Columbus is coming to a head, including in a recent piece published by the Huffington Post.

“Almost all statues are a form of propaganda—an over-simplified, romantic version of the past,” begins the piece.

“Here in Minnesota, a statue of Christopher Columbus on the state capitol grounds reminds us that Mr. Columbus initiated ‘the merging of the cultures of the Old and the New Worlds.’ Hmm…. As when the Old World smallpox virus merged with New World indigenous people and killed them by the hundreds of thousands,” it states later on.

The statute in question has already had its inscription rewritten, reports WCCO. While it originally credited Columbus as the “discoverer America”, a new plaque was added in 1992 which attached the additional language quoted in the Huffington Post article. A bill was introduced into the legislature which would chisel out the word “discoverer” from Columbus’ statue, and a different recent bill sought to remove the word “discovered” in “discovered America” from a nearby statue of Norse explorer Leif Erikson.

While there currently are no plans to remove the statues entirely, revisions may continue to be made in the face of public pressure and more modern sensitivities.

“These need to be preserved, but some place where you can give context,” Paul Mandell, the executive secretary of the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board told WCCO in an interview.

That attitude is lacking among the public, especially in other parts of the country.

In Baltimore, men took a sledgehammer to a statue of Columbus, severely damaging its base, reports The Baltimore Sun. The narrator of a video of the vandalism called Columbus a “genocidal terrorist.”

Anders Koskinen