The post by 'The Oatmeal' creator Matthew Inman prompted the 1.3 million followers of the site to click several hundred thousand 'likes' and tens of thousands of 'shares' that spread the message beyond its core customer base. Oatmeal describes itself as a site that collects and highlights comics, quizzes, essays and books.
In the post,Inman points out what he thinks are several misconceptions about Columbus and America, starting with the idea that most people in the 1400s thought the world was flat.
Citing two books, "Lies My Teacher Told Me" by James W. Loewen, and "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn, the posting goes on to outline how Columbus was a slaver, whose actions led to the death of millions of native peoples.
The United States should not have a national day in his honor, he suggests. Instead, America should celebrate a former explorer and slaver, Bartolome de las Casas, who renounced his existence and became a priest.
Christopher Columbus was awful (but this other guy was not) http://t.co/13Pw3iSQCQ— Matthew Inman (@Oatmeal) October 9, 2013
Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1937. Celebrated long before that by Italian-Americans, it first became a state holiday in Colorado. The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, lobbied Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress to make it a federal holiday.
The Knights of Columbus website includes a 2012 interview with a retired Stanford University anthropology professor Carol Delaney, who refutes claims that Columbus was a slaver. She said that Columbus went on his voyage to find gold to pay for a crusade to bring Jerusalem back into the hands of Christians from Muslims, before the imminent return of Jesus.