In recent years, a variety of groups have argued that Christopher Columbus was responsible for genocide against Native Americans, and semantically, didn't "discover" anything at all! Check out the following websites for arguments both for and against the celebration of Columbus Day, and then ask yourself the question, "Was Columbus a hero or a villain?"
This letter-to-the-editor, by Dr. Michael Berliner of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, has been published in a variety of newspapers. In it he argues that honoring Christopher Columbus is akin to honoring Western civilization. "It was Columbus' discovery for Western Europe that led to the influx of ideas and people on which this nation was founded ? and on which it still rests. The opening of America brought the ideas and achievements of Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, and the thousands of thinkers, writers, and inventors who followed."
This two-page Columbus biography includes a section (on page two) about his status as a hero. "Columbus' legacy is a mixed one. He has been credited for opening up the Americas to European colonization as well as blamed for the destruction of the native peoples of the islands he explored." The transfer of ideas, people, plants and diseases between the New and Old World had both benefits and downfalls. The European horse allowed Native Americans to switch from a nomadic lifestyle to a hunting model, but Old World small pox killed millions of Native Americans.
In this online debate, Contender won against Instigator (by a vote of 49 to 44) with his defense of the celebration of Columbus Day as a national holiday. You can follow their debate rounds, which include links to articles and YouTube videos, but the debate is over, and voting is no longer allowed. In response to Instigator's charge of genocide, Contender replied, "My opponent again must prove malicious intent in celebrating Columbus Day. Even if a hundred genocides occurred, if he cannot prove harmful intent in celebrating the holiday, then he cannot win the round."
"There are three main sources of controversy involving Columbus's interactions with the indigenous people he labeled 'Indians': the use of violence and slavery, the forced conversion of native peoples to Christianity, and the introduction of a host of new diseases that would have dramatic long-term effects on native people in the Americas." This History.com article concludes that Columbus Day "continues to be an important way for all Americans to learn more about the Age of Exploration and the enormous transformations it provoked."