PALO ALTO, CALIF.—Arriving here for a stint at the venerable Hoover Institution on Stanford's campus, I was treated to a celebration of Columbus Day, university style. Written in colorful chalk descending the steps of the Meyer Library was "Columbus Day Celebrate His Death." In fact, all over the sidewalks that crisscross the central campus were similar festive messages: "Happy Rape, Mutilation and Murder Day," "Celebrating Genocide Since 1492" (written over a picture of the explorer), and—my personal favorite—"Celebrating Murder for 615 Years."
Using simple subtraction, 615 years ago brings us to 1393, which doesn't ring any bells with me. But 516 years ago would have been 1492. Maybe someone's time would be better spent in class.
Meanwhile, nearby there was a voter registration booth with a kind lady pushing absentee applications for swing states. She'd just registered two students and said business was brisk. Given the large banners celebrating black pride and—what else?—"Columbus Indigenous Peoples Day" hanging behind her, it's not hard to guess which presidential candidate is intended to benefit most.
If Bush infamously declared he was "a uniter, not a divider," perhaps Obama can claim to be the "uniter of dividers." Although for Stanford's radicals, division might be an overly complicated computation.