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Lacking any Confederate monuments to vilify in Detroit, protesters over the weekend went after Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer who sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and landed in America, the first identifiable European to do so.

Columbus’s statue stands at Randolph and Jefferson downtown, erected by proud Italian-Americans in 1910 in recognition of his role in the creation of the greatest nation in history.

But now Columbus apparently is right there with Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson as white supremacists whose visages are unfit to be looked upon.

The inclusion of Columbus so high on the targeted statue list justifies the growing question: Where will the scrubbing of American history end?

Already, the Rev. Al Sharpton is calling for the government to stop funding the Jefferson memorial because it honors a slave holder, who also just happened to pen the greatest declaration of freedom and the natural rights of man ever written.

Although I believe the Confederate monuments are about much more than racism for many southerners, I understand they are offensive to a large swath of the population of the southern states. They also represent a rebellion against this nation, a thankfully failed effort to tear it apart.

Bringing down the rebel statues also removes any perceived legitimacy for the rebellion and its bloody effort to preserve slavery.

Taking down Columbus has the same goal, but for a more sinister purpose.

To delegitimize Columbus is to delegitimize America. The protesters are saying America has no right to exist because its founding and expansion displaced and often brutalized the native population.

Protesters told reporters Columbus represents western identity, which they equate with white supremacy.

Western culture is responsible for some reprehensible episodes in history, true. It is also the source of much of mankind’s progress and enlightenment. That makes many of its heros, including Columbus and Jefferson, contradictions, perhaps, but no less heroic for their contribution to this marvelous experiment.

If Columbus is a villain, then every immigrant who followed him to America is in the same boat. Including those coming today.

Without Columbus, there would be no United States. And anyone who argues that a world without the United States would be a better place is simply a fool.

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