Anne Foley, the principal at Kennedy School in Somerville, Mass., sent an email to teachers warning them about celebrating Thanksgiving, the Boston Herald reported.
“When we were young we might have been able to claim ignorance of the atrocities that Christopher Columbus committed against the indigenous peoples,” Kennedy School Principal Anne Foley wrote.
“We can no longer do so. 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.”
Teachers have already been told not to let students dress up for Halloween.
Parents told MyFoxBoston that they felt the principal was overreacting.
“My kids were brought up with Halloween and whatever have you. She has no right to tell these kids they can’t have it,” one woman told the station.
“The children, they need to express themselves and be children. Don’t take holidays and fun time away from them. They have so much homework. They don’t have enough play time,” another said.
Superintendant Tony Pierantozzi told The Herald that Halloween is “problematic” because of connections to witchcraft.
“I don’t think they should not be able to celebrate these holidays I mean this country was formed with the idea that everything is a free country, and they should be able to celebrate these holidays,” a Somerville woman told MyFoxBoston.
Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, who has three kids at Kennedy, also weighed in.
“I’m the son of Italian immigrations, so I take Columbus Day very near and dear, and I’m proud that he discovered America and that America’s named after another Italian,” Curtatone said. “If we ignore and we don’t want to talk about it, if we want to stifle debate, then we’re ignoring history.”
But, writes Boston Herald columnist Jessica Haslem, this principal’s, er, ‘principles’ are not on solid ground:
But some historians say the K-8 educator needs to do her homework.
Carol Delaney, author of “Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem,” said the Italian explorer has been “terribly maligned.”
“He was not the one going off marauding,” she said. “There were some atrocities that happened but he was generally not involved.”
Charles C. Mann, author of “1491” about the interactions between Indians and Europeans, said Thanksgiving is “sort-of a made-up holiday” but it’s his favorite, bringing families together in gratitude.
“I don’t see why it’s such a terrible thing,” Mann said.
U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) said historical figures shouldn’t be judged by today’s standards: “Christopher Columbus and the Pilgrims may have had shortcomings, but they also represent the adventurous, inquisitive side of our heritage and we should recognize that they played key roles in the foundation of our great nation.”
Of the Somerville schools’ ban on Halloween costumes, Pierantozzi said, for some students’ families, “Halloween is problematic.” He cited its connections to witchcraft, adding, “Some of our students come from cultures where kids are frightened by it.”
But Somerville mom Michele Campbell called the holiday hoo-ha a joke: “Let the kids enjoy them.”
Will sanity prevail in Somerville? As they say, stay tuned …