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OpinionLetters

The controversial legacy of Columbus

A 76-foot statue of explorer Christopher Columbus stands

A 76-foot statue of explorer Christopher Columbus stands in Columbus circle on August 23, 2017 in New York City. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

The only argument I have with writer Rosario A. Iaconis’ impassioned and otherwise justified defense of Christopher Columbus is his misleading claim that “Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from . . . Europe rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought” [“In defense of the great Columbus,” Opinion, Oct. 9].

The fact is, the origins of the indigenous peoples are entirely from East Asia, and their gene pool reflects the migration that took place from that region more than 12,000 years ago, according to a paper published in the journal Science in July 2015 by University of Copenhagen Centre for GeoGenetics. The European and Middle Eastern genetic influx began with Columbus’ arrival in North America and the Iberian conquest that followed — just a little more than 500 years ago, a fraction of time in the history of people who were already here.

Until Columbus and his followers came, the gene pool here contained virtually no European ancestry. In fact, the indigenous peoples suffered greatly from diseases brought by the conquistadors with their vastly different immunities.

Harry Katz, Southold

Why not treat Columbus Day as an ethnic holiday like St. Patrick’s Day, instead of a national holiday?

As for Christopher Columbus and his crew, and their greed to seize precious items such as gold and jewels, many explorers did this. Critics of Columbus often ignore that fact.

I am a Scandinavian, and I think the Vikings landed in America first! I call Columbus Day Discovery Day!

Barry Berg, Babylon

I applaud the New York City police for protecting the statues of Christopher Columbus from vandals.

I’m a grand knight of St. Anastasia Knights of the Columbus in Douglaston, Queens. We contend that Columbus, with his faults like the rest of the human race, did open up a new world with unlimited possibilities for Europeans. This includes freedom for all and freedom of religion.

My organization was created to help the incoming immigrants and the poor. To vandalize a statue of Columbus is an insult to the memory of a man who expanded Christianity.

I don’t believe removing his statues serves any purpose.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr., Glen Oaks Village

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