Bob Franken




There was something disconcerting about Monday, Oct. 11. On the very same day, we commemorated both a seriously oppressed group and a symbol of the group’s oppressors.
Christopher Columbus discovered America in the larger sense (his first stop was an island in the Bahamas in 1492), and he ran roughshod over any indigenous people he encountered.
But Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, and the Italians had strong lobbying groups. So with no mention of the Native Americans he abused, 300 years later, in 1792, the U.S. established the first Columbus Day.
Then, in 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared Columbus Day a federal holiday. But it took 53 years — until a week or so ago — for President Joe Biden to make it official: It will be Indigenous Peoples’ Day as well as Columbus Day. He was pretty busy that day reciting proclamations.
But it’s always some day or week or month in the United States, and then we go on to the next one and forget about the group we were just memorializing. There’s Black History Month, where we honor the African Americans, who first came over as slaves, then became almost slaves under Jim Crow segregation, and then whatever we have today, where we discriminate while pretending to be one happy family.
We still make history with that one. Fox News has made a mint exploiting and bitterly complaining about the teaching of history that really happened. They scare their listeners with terms like CRT, which means critical race theory. Those outraged would prefer to keep things the way they are, just maintaining it never happened and whiting out the Black experience. But anyway, that’s February.

We then segue into March, which, if you can’t keep up, is Women’s History Month. That’s necessary, because until the past century or so, women were taught that they couldn’t do much of anything except have babies. Or defend their right not to.
Then there are those who are bunched into the LGBTQ+ month, aka National Pride Month, which is June. It didn’t exist until the past few decades, when closet doors started opening
Before then they were hiding from danger. They were at risk of being killed, mutilated and maimed. They still are through much of the world. Here in the United States, we continue to debate whether they can marry each other, what bathrooms they can use and what sports league they can play in.
Don’t get me started on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, where it is the tradition among rich folks’ families to pack up the kiddies and take them all to serve up turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie to homeless people, who then spend the rest of the days in the calendar in forced anonymity.
But at least we don’t devote a full year to an animal, like the East Asians do. There are 12 zodiac beasts. 2021 is the Year of the Ox. People born in this year have characteristics such as strength and dependability — pretty conservative attributes.
We are going through our second year of the pandemic. It was supposed to last one year, but it’s mutated to the year of the delta variant.
Here in the U.S., we are about to begin the year of the political silly season. That means it’s the year of mandate — both vaccine and mask. Talk about a silly season.
But then there are the “Hallmark holidays,” like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, which mean there had to be a Father’s Day, which spawned the “Facebook holidays,” like National Daughter’s Day and National Son’s Day, which, of course, spun out into National Dog’s Day and Cat’s Day. Why don’t we combine them all into a National Sappy Day?
And we should mark one more on the calendar: National Pundit’s Day. That would be celebrated on April 1.

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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