John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Debate Rages In White House

Posted on October 12, 2009

Debate Rages In White House

According to White House sources, a secret debate has raged within the White House since the President has been inaugurated about a topic that goes to the very heart of the nation. What to do with Columbus Day?

Under pressure from Intercontinental Gathering of Indigenous People in the Americas Association, some leading members of the Obama White House have been quietly pushing to stop the Columbus Day Celebrations.

According to these sources, Attorney General Eric Holder has been leading the charge against Columbus Day. One source said, “Holder thinks that we should give the whole country back to the Indians. Everything bad in America started with Columbus, Holder believes.”

Pentagon Chief Robert Gates has been leading the opposition to the Holder faction. A source close to the Pentagon said, “Gates has had it up to here with these liberal idiots. He knows that if we first start giving in on Columbus Day, it will be a short step until we have to give back Manhattan.”

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanual is apparently furious that the debate has consumed so much time in staff meetings. He apparently told the New York Times, in an off-the-record conversation, “ We can’t get health care done, we can’t make a frickin decision of Afghanistan, we can get to work on jobs because we spend so much time on Christopher Frickin Columbus. This place is driving me frickin crazy.”

The anti-Columbus Day faction in the White House has ties to the IGIPAA. Some helped plan the big gathering in 1990, when 350 representatives from Indian groups from all over the hemisphere, met in Quito, Ecuador, at the first Intercontinental Gathering of Indigenous People in the Americas, to mobilize against the quincentennial celebration of Columbus Day. The following summer, in Davis, California, more than a hundred Native Americans gathered for a follow-up meeting to the Quito conference. They declared October 12, 1992, "International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People." The largest ecumenical body in the United States, the National Council of Churches, called on Christians to refrain from celebrating the Columbus quincentennial, saying, "What represented newness of freedom, hope, and opportunity for some was the occasion for oppression, degradation and genocide for others."

And of course, the anti-Columbus faction has a friend in Venezuela's Hugo Chávez. He renamed the traditional Columbus Day in his home country to the Día de la Resistencia Indígena (Day of Indigenous Resistance).

Columbus became a federal holiday in 1934. However, people have celebrated Columbus' voyage since the colonial period. In 1792, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event. During the 400-year anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic rituals were framed around themes such as support for war, citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress.

Ironically, some anti-immigration zealots and groups like the Ku Klux Klan in the late 19th Century fought against recognition of the Columbus Day.

The President still has not made a decision about what to do with Columbus Day. The debate continues to rage within a rudderless White House.

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