Sorting through the good, bad and traitorous in history
Regarding the article “Defending Columbus” [News, Aug. 25], why are we Italian Americans still standing up for Christopher Columbus? He accidentally found the Bahamas and mistakenly thought it was Asia. He enslaved the indigenous people and treated them cruelly.
There is an Italian we can celebrate, and that is Amerigo Vespucci. Two continents are named for him! He sailed after Columbus, and realized Columbus had been mistaken.
I’m embarrassed that we celebrate Columbus Day, in light of his actions. The holiday should be renamed to honor the indigenous peoples. They were here first, and this was their land. Vespucci would approve.
Marylou Gatto, Smithtown
The letter writer who quoted Gen. Robert E. Lee’s assertion that “blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa” might also like to add an interesting note [“Impressions of Charlottesville and its aftermath,” Letters, Aug. 27].
Two years later, in another letter to his wife, Lee wrote, “In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral and political evil in any Country.” Does this demonstrate a seed of humanity in his heart?
Susan E. Hopkins, Kings Park
I’m having difficulty following the discussion that equates George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and now Christopher Columbus with Robert E. Lee and his fellow Confederates [“Trump: Razing statues ‘foolish,’ ” News, Aug. 18].
The Confederate generals were traitors to the United States. Lee chose to betray his country and his oath as an officer in the U.S. Army. His actions in attacking our country were those of a terrorist.
Yes, Washington and Jefferson owned slaves, and Columbus was racially brutal, and this is a stain on the character and legacy of each. However, they never violently attacked the United States. Washington and Jefferson promoted our country as an experiment in democracy.
The Confederates may have been brave soldiers, but it matters what cause you’re fighting for. No amount of window dressing or false equivalency supports public reverence for these men.
Cynthia Lovecchio, Glen Cove
In 1999, people protested a painting by artist Chris Ofili called “The Holy Virgin of Mary” that was on exhibit in Brooklyn. Mary was portrayed as a black woman with elephant dung smeared on the canvas. The work was targeted by vandals. The museum director defended this painting, citing the First Amendment, saying that it was art. Why can’t our historic statues be protected under those same rights? They are art. The Civil War is part of our country’s history. We honor those who fought for what they thought was a righteous cause. We accepted that the Union won. Don’t let these veterans of war “die” again, in an irreverent and disrespectful manner.
James Clavin, Bay Shore
Lottery winnings go to a good cause
“We won Powerball!” exclained a co-worker who organized a lottery pool to win over $750 million.
As excitement spread through the Long Island office where I work, reality set in quickly. Our total prize was $16. With more than 50 players, we realized it would be less than 30 cents per person.
We decided to donate the money to the Mary Brennan Interfaith Nutrition Network soup kitchen in Hempstead. Some players donated additional money, for a total contribution of $40.
Congratulations to Mavis Wanczyk, the winner from Massachusetts [“Powerball winner can well afford to quit job,” News, Aug. 25], and to my co-workers, who made their small winnings bigger.
Howard Lev, East Meadow