Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino announced Monday that the town would like to receive any Christopher Columbus statues that are removed by “radical” mayors.
Saladino said at a news conference in Massapequa with town officials and members of the Sons of Italy organization and the Italian American Political Action Committee, he was “pushing back against political correctness gone awry.”
He said removing statues would “dishonor the legacy of Columbus as an explorer, as a navigator and a fearless captain on the seas and someone who took a great risk to change the history of the world,” Saladino said.
“We are urging these mayors to abandon the pursuit of removing these statues dedicated to one of the most important men in American history,” Saladino said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last month ordered a review of whether the statue of the Italian-born explorer at Columbus Circle in Manhattan should be removed because some historians have been critical of his treatment of indigenous peoples.
Saladino said he has not been contacted by any mayors of municipalities seeking to remove the statues and that he hoped no statues would be removed. But if they are, he said Oyster Bay would welcome them. Any cost would come from private, not taxpayer funds, Saladino said.
The Republican supervisor’s Democratic opponent in the November election, Marc Herman, said in a statement Monday that Saladino should not be “picking hypothetical fights with other municipalities.”
“While I support the Italian-American community’s proposal, Saladino’s focus should be on the town of Oyster Bay, which is hanging off the fiscal cliff right now,” Herman said.
Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr. said after the news conference that the “issue transcends politics.”
“This is about immigration; this is about tolerance for all Americans,” Altadonna said.