Change Is Hard

Timing is everything. Consider Confederate leader statues in the South and school names in San Francisco. You couldn’t get those statues built and those buildings named for bad people today. So why should anyone be mad about changing bad choices just because they’re old choices?

OK — history. And we’re so used to racist stuff that we don’t realize they’re racist. Those are reasons. Not good reasons but at least understandable.

I bring this up because a group of plaintiffs including The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations, Inc., last week sued the city of Philadelphia and its mayor for discriminating against Italian Americans by canceling Columbus Day and replacing it with Indigenous Peoples Day.

(Quick irrelevant aside: Why have we not heard from the Minor Italian American Organizations?)

I love it when a lawsuit brings up interesting questions that I’ve never thought about before. I also love it when one of the first things a complaint says contradicts its own premise.

This is from the suit: “While both groups’ ethnicity deserve recognition, Mayor Kenney may not take action that discriminates against Italian Americans to exalt another ethnic group in its place.”

So exalting Italian Americans with Columbus Day all those years was wrong?

It’s that timing thing again.

There are other fascinating issues of first impression (or at least my first impression). For example, can you discriminate against people by not having a holiday for them? When do I get Internet Columnist Day?

Is it racist to call someone white? I don’t know, but the author of the lawsuit seems to think so. Apparently, Philadelphia’s has made “public anti-Italian American comments.” This is the example: “a rant by Mayor Kenney about immigration” that included “If this were Cousin Emilio or Cousin Guido, we wouldn’t have this problem because they’re white.”

Don’t you hate it when someone calls you white and not problematic?

I should note here that the lawsuit delves into history. Among other things, it says that, according to a report by a Philadelphia assistant district attorney, Christopher Columbus “was the first recorded civil rights activist of the Americas” who protected tribal people. And the history of indigenous people shows that “some of their ancestry contains irrefutable evidence of wrongdoing of massive proportions regarding the practice of slavery.”

Amicus briefs in this case should be fascinating.

Don’t look at me. I have no idea who’s right about the history. I wasn’t there.

Maybe we should just stop building statues and naming buildings. All holidays should be generic and occur as frequently as possible. We need discounts on mattresses and tires.

Equal rights landmark. Further progress in the struggle for equality: the New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled that you can now commit adultery with a person of the same sex.

The New Hampshire legal definition of “sexual intercourse” has also now been officially changed. It now includes “heterosexual intercourse involving penetration of the vagina by the penis and intercourse involving genital contact other than penetration of the vagina by the penis.”

This is the kind of fascinating stuff you get in states that don’t have no-fault divorce.

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