The celebration of Columbus Day has become highly-debated as more people have started to understand the Italian explorer’s unintentional discovery of America as one that exploited and led to the killings of large Native American populations. So with observers hesitant to take the day off in the name of Christopher Columbus, The Daily Show host Trevor Noah proposes a new Italian American worthy of having statues built in his honor: Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“He’s an Italian-American hero, he’s beloved and respected by everyone, or at least almost everyone, and he’s trying to fight disease instead of spreading it all over the continent,” Noah quipped on Monday. “Best of all Dr Fauci’s a short guy so you save on the marble costs.”
The comedian’s suggestion came after the show featured clips of Italian-Americans rebuking the vandalism and destruction of landmarks and statues commemorating Columbus and other problematic historical figures. From statues of Thomas Jefferson to memorials for Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, protestors worldwide have removed the landmarks.
In the various clips, members of the Italian-American community said that such removals were disrespectful to Italian culture and one member even said the destruction was their equivalent of a 9/11.
“Look man, I don’t care how respectfully you put it, you can’t compare anything like this to 9/11,” he said.
Noah went on to share a video that explained why the statues celebrating Columbus were erected in the first place. Early generations of Italian Americans looked to Columbus as a hero and example of finding a place in America. But given the range of accomplished Italian Americans in various fields including, entertainment and politics, Noah said that it might be worth replacing Columbus statues with current community icons.
“The point is Americans don’t need to Columbus to celebrate the deeper meaning of Columbus day: honoring America’s immigrant heritage, celebrating Italian culture and most importantly, getting the day off.”
Watch the full The Daily Show clip above.