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Submitted to the Rocky Mountain News September 11, 2004 | Published 10/8/04

Some 15 years ago, a group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis received a permit to celebrate Hitler's birthday at the state capitol. City officials attempted to prevent the issuance of the permit. A court ruled that the group had a First Amendment right to their celebration. While accepting the legal ruling, officials from then-Mayor Wellington Webb on down, and numerous religious and civic leaders, condemned and denounced the event, as hate speech contrary to Denver's values.

On October 9, another group will hold an event in Denver to celebrate Christopher Columbus--a man who engaged in slave trading, stole land and resources from indigenous peoples, and was responsible for the deaths of literally millions. As that earlier group denied the reality of Hitler's Holocaust, this group denies the reality of Columbus and his
legacy, a history of genocide and of continuing racism and environmental destruction. They present a historically inaccurate picture of a brave explorer who brought civilization to a supposedly savage new world. This distortion of history, which denigrates the rich indigenous cultures of  this continent, is a form of hate speech that celebrates one group by demeaning and disrespecting another.

The organizers of this event may be legally entitled to hold it. But like the organizers of that earlier event, they are morally wrong to do so. Like that earlier event, this celebration is an affront to the values of diversity and equality that this city at its best represents. The current administration must take the same moral stand as its predecessor, and, with religious and civic leaders, and all people of good will in Denver, condemn this racist event in the strongest terms, and deny any official support for it.

Co-signed by Mark Cohen, Barbara Cohen, Stephanie Rossi and Scott Silber


2004 Transform Columbus Day Alliance