History Matters: Google, Columbus Day and More

By Karen A Walker

Today, October 14, is a long-established U.S. national holiday in honor of the Catholic Italian Explorer Christopher Columbus who was the first to discover and bring settlers to the new world of what just a few centuries later became the United States of America.

There’s much more to the story that you and I learned in our history books, yet even this much current students may not learn in their history textbooks of the last 20 years!

To highlight this latter point, today Google chose to ignore Columbus Day and instead to honor on its Google Doodle a Mr. Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau. Plateau, according to Wikipedia, was “a Belgian physicist and mathematicians; one of the first people to demonstrate the illusion of a moving image.”


Today banks, government offices and the U.S. Postal Service closed down in honor of Columbus Day. It is a national holiday, after all.  Where is the Columbus Day doodle?

Aside from Google, which is headquartered in the U.S. and although international in scope and influence, seems to honor other holidays, at least one city—Berkeley CA—has been doing its part to delete Columbus from memory.

In Berkeley, for example, some banks indicate that they are “closed for Indigenous People’s Day” (whatever that means). Outraged to discover this matter a few years ago, I quelled my outrage and calmly mentioned to the bank teller that they had “misspelled Columbus Day.”

Later, I took the time to complain to the African-American woman who was assistant branch manager at the time, that asHistory Matters: Google, Columbus Day and More an Italian-American I was beyond offended at the lack of respect for this national holiday.

She was immediately, wonderfully empathetic—after all, what could generate more empathy these days than “being offended” ?!  She explained that when she first worked at this bank branch the previous year, she too had been surprised by the blatant dismissal of Columbus Day. At that time, she was told that more than 20 years ago, the Berkeley City Council declared that Columbus Day be renamed Indigenous People’s Day.

What?! Columbus Day is a NATIONAL, Federally declared day of recognition and Federal holiday!


How can a city declare they’ll take advantage of a national holiday but won’t honor what its for?!! …especially when that same city is happy to receive national funding for projects or people it serves?

The Columbus Day situation in Berkeley leads me to doubt the students of that city learn anything positive about Columbus in the city’s local schools.

Further evidence my suspicion is correct is that I learned some of the city’s schools—starting in the late ‘60s and into the ‘70s had adopted new names to honor such inspiring role-models as “Malcom X”.  It’s true.   Malcom X Elementary School was formerly Abraham Lincoln Elementary School!  The list continues, including Rosa Parks Elementary School (formerly Columbus Elementary School) and Martin Luther King Jr. (formerly James Garfield Middle School), to name a few.

That’s just ONE city in the U.S. How many more? And, what other adaptations are made for politically correct history as determined by whoever happens to be “in power” during any given era?

Today’s reality in too many cities across the U.S.

So there you have, in a nutshell, immediate and painful evidence of the following points:

  • the critical need for teaching real history (not politically-correct social studies) in school,
  • the severe loss of respect for history and tradition in younger and, frankly, less-educated generations
  • the disregard and disrespect for the U.S. by Google, one of the wealthiest, most prominent and successful companies in the world which has benefitted from its base in the United States and the freedom and laws of this country which enable Google and other big tech firms to prosper and thrive.

It gets worse for Catholics…

That’s not even to mention, Christopher Columbus was a serious Catholic.

Was Columbus perfect? No…and neither are the Google founders, leadership teams and employees…neither are the members of any era’s Berkeley City Council. Not even Mr. Plateau was perfect.

Don’t you think it’s time we took an active and thorough second, and even third, look at what is being taught in our local schools — even in Catholic schools that often teach from hand-me-down, “free” textbooks—especially in history classes.

Will our future Catholic business leaders graduate grade school, high school and college with a true understanding of history, upon which they will base opinions and decisions for the future?

Or, will they learn that the only genuine heroes are those with the loudest voices or with the most politically correct motivations, as judged in light of today’s every-changing notions of what is politically correct?

Take it further, beyond the national recognition of Columbus Day.

Keep in mind… Unless today’s Catholic schools are using history textbooks published by Catholic Textbook Project, your sons and daughters and grandchildren, nieces and nephews are learning history from the same secular, revisionist social studies books that are used in public school.   NO DIFFERENCE..

In 2020, that may include “history” textbooks that teach students that not just Columbus, but that capitialism is a bad thing!

We all know that those who do not know history are destined to repeat it. Will our future Catholic leaders understand the ugly reality of communism and socialism upon individuals, businesses and the free and full practice of the Catholic Faith… or not?

Time to double check what’s being taught in school, including your local Catholic school!

What are your thoughts?



originally posted Oct 12, 2019, updated in 2020.

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