It began with an exchange of pleasantries.
In the audio from Tuesday, Alan Chartock, of WAMC’s The Roundtable, breaks the ice by telling Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo that his wife had returned from a Columbus Day parade the enthusiastic owner of a “Proud Italian Americans for Cuomo” poster. Cuomo, with a soft chuckle and a hesitant “Yes,” confirms that his people were the ones handing them out. Suddenly, Chartock pivots and notes the “contentious debate” around dedicating a day to Christopher Columbus, a genocidal racist who was engrossed in raping indigenous women and stealing gold. He asks Cuomo what the governor thinks about renaming the holiday “Indigenous Peoples Day”: “We know that the people who came over here wiped out the indigenous population, don’t we? So maybe we should make that change. What do you think?”
“We should recognize Indigenous Peoples Day. … There were people here before who we have abused terribly and we continue to abuse them today. We’ll put you on reservations and we take all the good land,” says Cuomo. “Columbus Day though—well, the Columbus statue is about more than Christopher Columbus. The Columbus statue was put up at a time, Alan, when the Italian Americans were being abused. And it was a symbol to the Italian American community of respect and acceptance and inclusion. That’s why it generated the heat it did several years ago when they talked about taking it down.”