I go to a school with a pretty hefty foreign population (actually the most internationally diverse college in the nation, but who’s counting?), so there comes a day every October when I get asked the question a lot: “Why do we get the second Monday in October off?” I explain about Columbus Day, and I’m generally met with anything from confusion to outright anger.  “Christopher Columbus, the man who discovered America and then promptly killed off everyone that lived there already?” they will say.  They will often be outraged, and rightly so.  It seems to reinforce every negative American stereotype out there that we get a day off every year to commemorate a man who spawned a more effective genocide than Hitler, and we use that day to sleep in and watch football.

Though in the spirit of cultural reparations, I always cheer for the Chiefs on Columbus Day

I can see why this would be almost unbelievably offensive to many.  But I think Columbus Day represents something so much more important than that.  Columbus was a man who was so wrong, so mean, and so abrasively arrogant that he became a hero.  People still remember who Columbus was over 500 years later.  I think it’s important to celebrate Columbus not so much because he sailed to America, but because he lived out a fantasy that so many of us have  – becoming rich and famous for doing little to no work.

Even these guys are more deserving of their fame. I don’t see Columbus coming up with any catchphrases

Let’s really take apart just how ineffective Columbus was at the things he supposedly did, so that we can better understand why it’s important to commemorate him.  The one thing that most people know about Christopher Columbus is that he discovered America.  But we really can’t even give him that much credit .  Let me go on a little tangent here to explain my point.

There was a very sad time in my life when I didn’t understand the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between Taco Bell and actual Mexican food.  Or Taco Bell and actual food, for that matter.  So one day, I passed a Taco Bell on the way to my friends house.  Later that night, everyone started really wanting some delicious Mexican food, and I knew it was my time to shine. “I just found a new place on the way over here, its really close!” I proclaimed, eager to share my discovery with everyone.  Ecstasy abounded, and people piled into my car to go to get some burritos.  However, upon discovering that the “new, really close Mexican place” was actually just a Taco Bell, the happy feeling went through all of us faster than a Crunchwrap Supreme, and soon my car was filled with a diarrhea of disappointment.  Not literally. God no, not literally.

Honestly though, how was I supposed to know that Doritos weren’t a traditional Mexican food?

Not only had I promised a Mexican food place and had instead discovered a Taco Bell, but it turns out that several people in the car had actually been to this Taco Bell before, and had opted to just not talk about it.  Probably to avoid the embarrassment of letting people know they ate Taco Bell.  I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it was the all-time low point of my life.

I hope you see where this analogy is headed now.  Columbus may have landed at  America, but he didn’t ever think that he was in a new place.  He legitimately thought what he found was India.  India – a place where thousands of Europeans had been before, and therefore could have easily told him that he was wrong.  He then went and told everyone he found India, and even to this day the natives of America are referred to as Indians just because Columbus was about as good at telling races apart as he was at playing video games (presumably not very good, but I don’t actually have any evidence to support that claim).  Several other people tried to tell him that it wasn’t India, but Columbus literally died still believing that he had just found a sweet new shortcut to India and that all those people were trying to take that accomplishment away from him by saying that it was actually a new continent.

Further adding to Columbus’ lack of accomplishments, he wasn’t even the first person to discover America.  It’s not like he could’ve used the excuse that he was convinced it was India because there was no other place it could have possibly been.  Numerous Viking expeditions landed in North America hundreds of years prior, and not only did they beat Columbus to the punch there, but they also managed to avoid killing everyone.  Yes, the Vikings, a people famous solely because they used to slaughter English people for fun, were more skillful with indigenous relations than Columbus was.

Now, I think it should be abundantly clear at this point that Columbus was just an utter failure for an explorer as well as just a human being.  He got lost, found a land that had already been discovered, told everyone it was a completely different place, refused to accept that it was not that place, and then started governing the new land he refused to admit that he discovered so badly that he was arrested.  The guys from Almost Heroes were more successful explorers.

Meaning that Chris Farley Day would be a less ridiculous choice for a holiday than Columbus Day

But it takes a certain kind of man to look down at the fact that your life’s accomplishments are all either false, stolen or just downright evil, and then decide that there should be a holiday named after you.  This is why many think that Columbus Day is an outdated holiday, celebrating a man that is at odds with everything we believe in this modern age.

However, I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement.  I can’t think of a man to more accurately represent the modern American dream than this man.  We live in a world where we forgive Chris Brown for beating up his girlfriend and celebrate Donald Trump for making absurd boasts about himself, and the whole mentality of this sort of thought process can basically be traced back to Columbus’ brazen claims over Hispaniola.  We are very willing to celebrate people with mediocre accomplishments just because they feel they deserve them.

If this picture were taken today, these people would be waiting in line for MTV pilots

It’s an age of entitlement, where some people honestly feel like fame and attention are a birthright, and they will do whatever is necessary to achieve it.  It may not necessarily entail wiping out an indigenous population, but it could very well entail putting their child on Toddlers in Tiaras, which may actually be worse if you ask me. I’m honestly not sure we’ll ever find a more fitting symbol for the modern age than this great and innovative man, so we’d better keep celebrating Columbus Day or we’ve got some serious ‘splainin to do.