Count me in as an Italian American who doesn’t want a guy who set out for Japan and ended up in the Bahamas put on a pedestal. Christopher Columbus is no more a model Italian than Donald Trump is a model American. Immortality through infamy does not a hero make, and holidays should be reserved for people and causes worthy of reverence.

What Columbus did discover before Trump and the Russians was the power of fake news, and it’s high time we pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Columbus may be a man worthy of study, but he’s not one worthy of adoration. In no way does he represent core American or Italian-American values.

Spanish royalty dubbed Columbus “Emperor of the Sea” before they realized he had not actually found outlying territories of East Asia, as he claimed, but instead had brutalized, enslaved and killed the indigenous people of Hispaniola and surrounding islands. That name, though, wasn’t good enough. A guy whose ego demanded that he transport three ships, “Columbus the Christ-bearer” was the moniker the self-appointed messiah chose for himself – and if that sounds a bit arrogant, watch your mouth. A woman who reminded Columbus he was the son of a weaver had her tongue cut out, Tulane University historian Kris Lane recently noted in The Washington Post. He was a ruthless person who abused power and caused great suffering.

But it’s not just because Columbus was a cruel, narcissistic braggart that I don’t think he’s worthy of representing Italian Americans – the guy had no common sense. Heading west on a “shortcut” looking for nutmeg and cardamon in Asia was one thing, but contrary to the overwhelming evidence before him that he had not arrived in the East – like, zero spices anywhere – Columbus insisted he had discovered the startup equivalent of the Spice Islands.

Forgive me for wanting a guy who actually stepped foot in America to get the credit for discovering America. Not only did Christopher Columbus never step foot on U.S. soil, he technically wasn’t even Italian since Italy did not exist until 1861 and there is an ongoing debate about his origins. There are better people to represent what’s good about Italians.

“Blessed are those who are poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God,” according to Jesus. And Columbus “the Christ-bearer” did his part to increase the holy numbers among the Taino people of Hispaniola, who had to give up their gold or be killed under Columbus’ rule, another historian, Ian W. Toll, pointed out in The New York Times. Even by 15th-century standards Columbus was a hypocrite, says Toll, allowing only so many “Indians” the privilege of Christian baptism to ensure an adequate supply of slaves.

“By 1500, he and his brothers had sent nearly 1,500 enslaved islanders to European markets to be sold,” noted Lane, a Latin American history professor at Tulane. “Even ‘friendly’ indigenous peoples were forced to mine gold en masse, speeding death from malnourishment, overwork and disease.”

Is this really a man we should be honoring? Columbus Day is an insult to the beautiful maple trees on display this time of year and the thousands of people every day who live a life of piety. We deserve a better guy on our calendar. How about “Da Vinci Day”?

Columbus was pompous and greedy and he killed people. On top of that, he failed in almost every business venture he started. Writes Lane: Columbus “planted a colony on the north shore of Haiti and named it La Navidad. When he returned on his second voyage, everyone at ‘Christmas town’ was dead. Columbus launched another settlement, named La Isabela for his royal patron, that met much the same fate.”

Italian-American heritage is one to treasure for many things: most importantly, its family values and good food. The Mediterranean diet is worthy of a national holiday. Italian grandmothers and Italian babies deserve a day in their honor. There are no finer artists than Michelangelo and Artemisia Gentileschi and no better wine than a Barolo. Robust red sauce in the refrigerator beats money in the bank.

A holiday that is supposed to be symbolic of Italian culture should be more than a hollow genuflection to a mean guy who ravished the culture he happened to stumble upon and thereafter abused its people. An American holiday should commemorate people, places and things that helped shape the oldest democracy in the world, including the many contributions of immigrants. Surely there is a better candidate for Italian Americans than Christopher Columbus.

Too many monuments cast losers and bullies in bronze, giving them a fake patina of glory and greatness. The cat is out of the bag. Columbus was a bum.

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and a former state senator. She can be contacted at:

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Twitter: @dillesquire