Today is “Columbus Day”, a federal holiday that exists to remember when Christopher Columbus supposedly discovered America in 1492. Does the idea of honoring a man who paved the way for European colonization, exploitation, and murder of native peoples seem completely fucked to you too? Cue the Priests track “U.S.A. (Incantations)”, a/k/a the only thing I ever want to listen to on occassions like Independence Day, Columbus Day, and Thanksgiving.
“No one should really have to spend much time outlining the ways in which this country, and the whole basis for this country, is totally false,” says Katie Alice Greer on the track, a cut from the band’s Tape II. It’s really more of a monologue than a song, a two-minute-and-twenty second reminder of the lies and murder that the U.S.A. was built on. “It should be plain as day to most of us, but, it is unfortunately a truth very much obscured by omittances in public education, popular cultural references, and deceptive ideas of ‘common sense’. So, for a lot of people, the idea that the USA is bullshit is ‘crazy talk’.”
This year, Seattle has officially adopted a resolution making the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The city joins Minneapolis, who already made the switch. South Dakota celebrates today as Native Americans Day, while Hawaii refers to it as Discoverers’ Day. That still leaves 46 states where “Columbus Day” continues to be celebrated.
Hear the entire Priests song below, and for fun, the lyrics are below too. Also consider heading over the Jacobin to read “The Real Christopher Columbus“, a piece on Columbus adapted from Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States.
So here is something funny about the signing of the US constitution: There were 55 people who signed it, they were all rich white men. 15 of them owned other people who were forced to do work for them in order to survive, called “slaves”. All 55 of these white men owned land. If you were not a wealthy white man who owned people or land you were definitely not invited to decide what this new country was going to be about. When people defend the USA I think of Stockholm Syndrome and people in bad relationship that have always been bad relationships. It’s not like the idea started out good and just “lost the plot” or got fucked up along the way. Unless you are a rich, land-owning, cisgender, heterosexual white man-man-man through and through, things were always bad for you here. Things were bad for your people who came here before you did. This place was born on a selfish lie. There is nothing to salvage, no great ideals that just got a little skewed. Do you know how much of the population was not represented in the initial signing of the constitution? Eighty-seven percent. Eighty-seven percent were not land-owning, rich white men. No one should really have to spend much time outlining the ways in which this country, and the whole basis for this country, is totally false. It should be plain as day to most of us. But, it is unfortunately a truth very much obscured by omittances in public education, popular cultural references, and deceptive ideas of “common sense”. So, for a lot of people, the idea that the USA is bullshit is “crazy talk”, and, I just don’t know how to go about relating to these people. I am a big believer in “to each their own”, but the idea that this country is really wonderful and that we should be grateful is wrong, totally wrong. This is some, “He hit me and it felt like a kiss” logic. Time to end the abuse. Time to recognize that while we are glad to be alive we could actually be living a lot better without this horrible nonsense. But, Rome wasn’t built in a day, this is a step-by-step process. And the first step is knowing, understanding, that this country was not made for you, and it is built on lies and murder.