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By Scott Sullivan


Goodbye, Columbus

The latest sign we are racing backwards into the future came when Columbus, Ohio, scratched its Columbus Day observance.

Ohio’s capital city Oct. 8 did the unspeakable: did not give its workers a 3-day weekend. Imagine the family traditions ruined, and Italian-Americans insulted, by having just two days for their solemn observances of the explorer’s legacy.

Wait, there’s less: City offices will instead close on Veterans Day. This was based on principles all adhere to: politics and money.

The problem Columbus had with Columbus Day is that Native Americans and allied groups were using it to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline and urge Ohio to support more renewable energy. What was once meant to be a community celebration became divisive.

The decision to stop observing it, said Robin Davis, a flak for Mayor Andrew Ginther, was not spurred by the national movement to banish Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day, recognizing colonialism’s victims.

The city, she explained, does not have a budget to give its 8,500 workers both days off. So it swapped out the controversial one to recognize a safe demographic, veterans.

How about no government paid vacation days? What better way to honor the sacrifices Martin Luther King Jr. (who the fed once imprisoned), Labor, Veterans, Columbus/Indigenous People and so on than work free those days for taxpayers? I work and pay taxes, which furnish those employees’ livelihoods and benefits, on those days.

Who would have to pass this new policy? The same public servants who serve themselves keeping it as it is.

Phillip Roth’s 1959 novella “Goodbye, Columbus” — 10 years later made into a movie starring Ali MacGraw and Richard Benjamin — draws its name from a song sung by one of its characters on graduation from Ohio State University in that city. (I won’t call it THE Ohio State University. If Ohio doesn’t have another or better one, that is their problem.)

The story deals with a working-class man who falls for a woman from a wealthy family. Both are Jews and the issue of ethnic assimilation is intrinsic.

The couple’s relationship, as so many do, unravels. The song underscores its passing and his saying goodbye to her assimilated, affluent world for one, likely, absent either.

Columbus could do us a better favor: Say goodbye to the Buckeyes. Coach Urban Meyer reminds me of the pizza chain Herb and Fire: he too should be cooked over wood before being carried out. As for Woody Hayes? The haze rises from him roasting where he belongs.

I’ve actually been in Columbus and — it hurts me to say this — liked it. It was fun being a media mogul in the Columbus Marathon’s lead vehicle on Woody Hayes Drive, near the Horseshoe, cheering for a Michigan man to beat all of the Ohio ones. My new enemy/friends in the car had a lot of fun with that too.

All of us are indigenous to somewhere. Take Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator mounting a presidential campaign against an incumbent who calls her as “Pocahontas.”

Seems President Trump thinks Warren has used her part-Native American heritage for political capital. He challenged the former Harvard professor, who hardly lacks qualifications otherwise, to take a DNA test and, if it proved positive, offered to pay $1 million to her favorite charity.

She did and it did — although the percentage was microscopic — but Trump hasn’t paid. Go figure. Moreover, the Cherokee Nation has called Warren’s actions “inappropriate and wrong,” saying using such tests to claim any connection to a tribal nation undermines tribal interests.

This is Trump at his Trumpiest and politics at its silliest. Stunts, insults, bread and circuses to entertain candidates’ core followers while diverting the conversation from real issues: hunger, corruption, poverty, education … boring and difficult stuff that’s less laugh-a-minute.

If Columbus can end Columbus Day, can we find politicians who don’t play politics? Don’t bet on it. Self-identity is important.

Italians, Native Americans, veterans, Jews, Ohioans, Michiganians … I like when we celebrate who we come from and preserve traditions, but assimilate others also. I am Irish-American. Do I repudiate my heritage eating pizza?

Hello, Columbus. There are worse things than Buckeyes — not that I’d tell them that — but they have some redeeming features. I’d go back.