Easton Mayor Panto on Columbus: teach the history; embrace, don’t hide the past

Latest in a series of posts on the Columbus monument

“San Salvador” from the triptych “Columbian Triad” (1992)
by Kiowa artist N. Scott Momaday

Mayor Sal Panto, on the controversy over Easton’s Columbus statue:

Panto says while people have a right to petition, the statue is part of history that can’t be re-written, and there’s a lot to be learned from it. “Humanity has come a long way since the early days, when unfortunately people like Christopher Columbus and other founders of our country didn’t have the same values we have today.” “I don’t think you just throw that part of history away,” Panto said. “I think you teach the history — both sides and all sides of Christopher Columbus, but you just don’t throw it away.” While he agreed Columbus’ methods were inhumane and racist by modern standards, he will oppose efforts to bring the statue down. “Where does this lead? Should we burn down the pyramids and the Colosseum because they were built with slaves? Do we change the name of Pennsylvania because William Penn displaced countless Native Americans?” he said. Instead, Panto offered his support for adding another statue along the riverfront. Back in 2006, the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania proposed building a $500,000 24-foot-tall fountain featuring a dream-catcher-like circular ring with water flowing through it. It would also feature statues of a Lenape woman instructing her grandson about his heritage. Panto said the cost made the proposal untenable but offered his support for a scaled-back version. “I think that’s the solution. Not hiding that past, but embracing it,” he said. (woven together from several Morning Call articles)

What do you think of Panto’s “solution”?

We’re thinking about all of the things tied into our national reckoning about race triggered by the murder of George Floyd.

Gadfly ever thinks of the soft words of Joyce Hinnefeld, Clerk of the Lehigh Valley Meeting (Quakers), each Sunday morning: “we worship together on land that was originally the land of the Lenape people.”

Remembrance is a form of reparation.

Representation is a form of reparation.

4 thoughts on “Easton Mayor Panto on Columbus: teach the history; embrace, don’t hide the past

  1. Mayor Panto should support the Lenape proposal, but that doesn’t solve the problem with Columbus. He seems to be ignoring the fact that we’ve learned a lot about Columbus since that statue was erected. As for street names, many major streets follow the routes of old trails created by the Indigenous people; we should consider doing what they’re doing in some area of MN & other states: changing the name to reflect the original historical name.

  2. Mayor Panto is wrong.By teaching history we put the past in the light. The erecting of the Columbus statute is part of history and so should be the removal of that statue be a part of history.

  3. I like Joyce’s thoughts and the Lenape proposal.

    History is problematical because it is often “R” or “X” rated and should not be taught to children. Younger children should be taught a morality that allows them to process real history when they legitimately can access it. A “G” rated history probably is the basis for the Columbus statue. The removal of the statue will essentially cancel out public discussion of history which is not useful.

  4. “We’re thinking about all of the things tied into our national reckoning about race triggered by the murder of George Floyd.”

    The idea that a statue of Christopher Columbus, decades old and paid for by Italian immigrants, should be taken down because of the death of a man in police custody in Minnesota makes absolutely no sense, for anybody who hasn’t been brainwashed by modern media hysteria. There is a less than zero relationship between the two.

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