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As statues fall, Cuomo stands up for Columbus

The venting of rage over the death of George Floyd, the black Minneapolis man who died in police custody on Memorial Day, has led to statues being vandalized and destroyed.

Confederate leaders became obvious targets for the mob’s ire. But the hit list also has included Gandhi, the late mayor of Philly, Frank Rizzo, a Philadelphia abolitionist named Matthias Baldwin and Christopher Columbus.

In Richmond, Boston, Miami and St. Paul, and perhaps elsewhere, monuments to the man credited with founding America have been decapitated, toppled or covered in graffiti by Floyd protesters.

But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stuck up for the man who brought Western civilization to the New World. 

Cuomo, an Italian-American, said last week he opposed the idea of removing the statue of Columbus at the subway stop at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. The 70-foot-tall monument was erected in 1892. 

“I understand the dialogue has been going on for a number of years,” Cuomo told a reporter who asked about the statue. “The Christopher Columbus statue represents in some ways the Italian-American legacy in this country and the Italian-American contribution in this country.

“I understand the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts, which nobody would support,” the governor continued. “But the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian American contribution to New York. For that reason, I support it.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, usually a dependable ally for the radicals, supported Cuomo’s position. In fact, a blogger for residents of Manhattan’s Upper West Side noted city cops had been deployed to guard the statue for the time being. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 17 million Americans claim Italian ancestry, making them the fourth-largest group of Americans with European roots, after the Germans, Irish and English.

And Italian-American groups applauded Cuomo. Others not so much. 

According to the Associated Press, a spokeswoman for a Native American organization noted, “Governor Cuomo’s eloquence in response to the anti-racism movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd apparently does not extend to the genocide and enslavement those first transatlantic voyages initiated and which continue to underpin the oppression of indigenous peoples to this day.”

It’s difficult for many Americans, especially those who treasure our nation’s history and what that has wrought for the world, to understand how Columbus’s arrival more than 500 years ago relates to George Floyd. 

But they do get that the definition of hypocrisy is detesting America and its history with such intensity while continuing to reap the fruits of its political and economic systems.

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