NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. — “Today we are all Italian-Americans, even the press,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said before marching in the New York City Columbus Day Parade Monday.
Cuomo y defended honoring Christopher Columbus amid another round of scrutiny for celebrating the Italian explorer and calls from some to switch the day toward recognizing the contributions of indigenous peoples instead.
“I march in all the parades because I honor the immigrant experience all across the board, making the mosaic of New York,” Cuomo said.
“I reject the negativity of a lot of the current day political tactics across the country. The mood of the country is angry, so it’s almost definition by opposition. I’m against this, I’m against this, I’m against this.”
At the same time, Cuomo noted Columbus’s historical reputation and treatment of the indigenous people, pointing to the federal government had a poor track record for the treatment of Native Americans.
“Of course we should honor the indigenous people,” he said. “They were abused by many leaders. And, by the way, the number one abuser of the indigenous people in this country, was our federal government.”
Cuomo said Columbus Day is an affirmation of immigration in the United States, no matter where people are from.
“Celebrate the indigenous people, but that is also the story of Columbus Day. Now the non-indigenous people, we’re all immigrants,” he said. “God bless America, that’s the New York story. So it’s both. It doesn’t have to be about differentiation and I’m against this and I’m against this. Forget the opposition, it’s about affirmation.”
His comments come as some have called for the removal of Columbus’s statue from Columbus Circle as officials re-assess historic monuments in the wake of an outcry over Confederate statues in southern cities.