Columbus Day Controversy in Somerville: What do You Think?
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone fired back at a Boston Herald columnist for her piece titled "Fun takes a holiday in Somerville."
A Boston Herald column titled "Fun takes a holiday in Somerville" caused a stir Friday, and now Somerville's mayor has fired back.
The column describes an email sent by Anne Foley, principal of the John F. Kennedy Elementary School, to teachers at the school. The email, according to the column, takes aim at Columbus Day and Thanksgiving.
The Boston Herald column quotes from the email, in which Foley wrote, "When we were young we might have been able to claim ignorance of the atrocities that Christopher Columbus committed against the indigenous people … for many of us and our students celebrating this particular person is an insult and a slight to the people he annihilated. On the same lines, we need to be careful around the Thanksgiving Day time as well."
The column, which also said Somerville schools have a "ban" on students wearing Halloween costumes, quickly made the rounds on the Internet, landing on blogs as far away as Michigan and Las Vegas, among other places.
The response was strong enough that Somerville's mayor, Joseph Curtatone, quickly fired back on Friday, the same day the column was published.
The Boston Herald columnist "clearly was more interested in stirring the pot than having an adult discussion," Curtatone wrote, saying the column "turned into regional and national radio and Internet fodder."
"Apparently some people must take great offense at something new each day and today we have become the designated punching bag."
"No one is saying people cannot celebrate our traditional holidays, just that there's more to them than fits on the back of a matchbook," Curtatone wrote. "Principal Anne Foley raised a fair point with her staff. The story of Columbus is complicated, just like history is complicated. Our educators should be having that discussion. We encourage healthy debate in our schools."
Curtatone also said Somerville has "the biggest Halloween-themed party in the metro Boston region," referring to the SomerStreet festival planned for Oct. 23 along Somerville Avenue.
Curtatone wrote, "The biggest thing the Herald missed in its column was the headline—'Fun takes a holiday in Somerville.' We have more fun with more events and holidays in this city than any other city I've ever seen."
What do you think?
Was Somerville the "punching bag" in a "national game of who can take the most offense," as Curtatone wrote? Or was Foley out of line and misguided when she wrote her email to teachers? Are we right or wrong to celebrate Columbus Day and Thanksgiving?