American revisionism has come to Europe. Hundreds of Notre Dame students, staff and alumni are calling on the university president to remove murals of Christopher Columbus from the campus as they depict “the most debasing form of insult” in their portrayal of Native Americans and black people.
Around 600 protesters signed an open letter published in the university’s student newspaper, the Observer, opposing the artwork. Branding Columbus an “owner and distributor of humans as slaves,” the letter said that the murals “commemorate and laud the beginning of the centuries-long systematic removal of Native American persons and culture from the United States.”
“The Native persons are depicted as stereotypes, their destruction is gilded over and their slavery is celebrated,” the letter reads.
According to the protesters, African slaves are depicted “comically, and Columbus’ incipient role in the buying and selling of humans as chattel is depicted as a holy and Christian act.”
“It is time for the murals to go,” the letter declares, adding that the paintings are “greeting millions of campus residents and visitors with a highly problematic vision of Western triumphalism, Catholic militarism and an overly romantic notion of American expansion.”
The 12 controversial paintings by Italian artist Luigi Gregori have resided in Notre Dame’s Main Building for 133 years. “The most difficult part about the murals is that they reside in the most iconic building on campus,” John Slattery, Postdoctoral professor, told WNDU. “And there’s nothing there right now that allows people to walk through without examining the murals critically.”
An informational pamphlet stands right by the murals, which supply some historical context, but for Slattery and other students, that isn’t enough. “It’s easy to walk by,” he said, noting that it’s exactly this “uncritical acceptance or examination of the murals that the signers of the letter find so problematic.”
School spokesman Dennis Brown said the paintings have historic and artistic value, and the university has no plans to remove them, AP reported.
In late August, activists in Baltimore, Maryland, took a sledgehammer to one of the oldest monuments to Christopher Columbus in the US, blaming the European explorer for racism, murder, genocide and slavery in the Americas. The perpetrators filmed the act and posted the video on the YouTube channel Popular Resistance.
“Christopher Columbus symbolizes the initial invasion of European capitalism into the Western Hemisphere. Columbus initiated a centuries-old wave of terrorism, murder, genocide, rape, slavery, ecological degradation and capitalist exploitation of labor in the Americas,” said the narrator, who introduced himself as a resident of Baltimore named ‘Tye’.
The question remains of course if the world would be a better place if all historical evidence of racism, genocide, slavery and terrorism are wiped out. Somehow it reminds me of the 1933 book burnings and of the destruction of Islam artefacts by ‘pious’ Muslims. The past is the past and we can learn a lot from it about the things we should avoid in the future. And political correctness will certainly not help much, on the contrary.