• Mario Nicolais

Protesters should topple legacies, not statues

As my English teacher wife has repeatedly taught me, content without context means almost nothing. As statues across the country tumble, it is time for us to all step back and figure out if we can see the forest through all the big trees obstructing our view.


This should be a moment for education and healing, not destruction and division. 


When activists indiscriminately tear down statues without respect for either history or process, the collateral damage to otherwise supportive coalitions far outweighs the symbolic “victory” achieved by their fits of rage.


In Colorado, that has taken the form of monuments to Civil War veterans and Christopher Columbus


Columbus has a been a point of conflict for decades. Revered for centuries as the man who “discovered the New World,” his legacy of brutality and devastation to Indigenous peoples has rightly been exposed. As an Italian-American, I support efforts to fully detail his historical legacy and the orderly removal of statues honoring him; and not simply because Columbus hailed from Genoa where northern Italians persecuted my southern Italian ancestors for centuries.


Columbus’ actions, both good and terrible, belong in our history books and not in a place of reverence. But mobs unilaterally tearing them down do nothing to accomplish that end.


Read the rest of this column in The Colorado Sun.

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