I agree with John Hinderaker (with a minor quibble or two) on the Harriet Tubman on the $20 debate.
She seems to have been a fine person and did some things many find very worthy of notice. But there have been many that have done that. So I’m not supportive of a change.
Initially money, coinage that is, utilized a symbol of its issuer — a city or state (e.g. kingdom), leader or a favored deity. One could easily argue that coinage has always had some manner of political element to it. When money was made of small pieces of precious metals the ability to tell much of a story was limited. The advent of paper currencies changed that by providing a larger tableau and better surface, though the stories were, by and large, limited to famous politicians or military leaders, significant events, symbols of industry or national import.
Picking an “activist” such as a Harriet Tubman smacks far more of a left-wing foreign regime. Yet an argument could be made for her as some kind of representative of a political movement.
My big complaint is two-fold — staples of exchange should stay stable; and this smacks of political correctness and the left’s never-ending attack on American history.
The first argument should be self-explanatory though I’m afraid it isn’t in these days of tear-away history and currency manipulation by national governments and central banks. The monetary unit should have a feeling of being rooted in time, a sense solidness and permanence. Changing the face of a currency, making it the tool of transient political regimes, is a little too reminiscent of banana republics, socialist regimes and tyrants. The Wall Street Journal noted on Thursday, this is just the beginning of Obama administration machinations, “The backs of the $5 and $10 bills will also be redesigned over time to tell the story of civil rights for women and African-Americans, a marked departure from the current lineup of presidents and founding fathers — unchanged since 1928.” They are even lining up Marian Anderson singing in Washington, D.C. for a spot on a bill.
You can imagine that redesigning, AKA messaging and branding, will not stop there. These are people who put political messages, their political messages, their propaganda, on everything. To them everything serves the message: what we eat, energy sources, modes of transportation, museums, sports, arts, so much more; and even money.
And this is where the more disturbing angle comes in. It is political correctness. It is identity politics. This isn’t about what Harriet Tubman did but rather her skin color and her sex. Those are the criteria that liberals make their judgments of worth by. This will just be the beginning of politicizing our money.
Mark my words — Wounded Knee, small pox blankets, Haymarket riots, Pullman porters, Manzanar, Malcolm X, grape boycotts, Cesar Chavez, Miranda, Stonewall riot, Berkeley protests, Roe v Wade, Harvey Milk, et al, all the fodder that fuels the left’s culture wars will be pitched now. Who knows, maybe Susan B. Anthony will be trotted out yet again. Third time’s a charm, right!?! They are going to force a woman down our throats, no matter what (even if they have to put women on every mode of transaction in America, including mandating a woman on all checks and credit cards).
The tearing down of Andrew Jackson (and so many others) is just a part of the left’s war on history and another instance of their Year Zero mentality. Destroying history is an attempt to unmoore us from our foundations so that they can be rewritten and sculpted into the left’s dreamed of utopia.
The WSJ story devoted two whole paragraphs (Woo! That’s some big effort there Nick Timiraos!) in a half-hearted explication of the other side of the debate. He pointed out that Jackson is often mentioned only for his conduct with Indians. If anything else is mentioned it is his irascibility. Hinderaker surmises, and I agree, that Ol’ Hickory is probably a bit too much of a hyper-Alpha Male for today’s special snowflakes. I suspect most of them would wet their pants or faint in his presence.
Howard Kittell, president of the Hermitage, Jackson’s home, complains (as we all do) that it makes no sense to sit in judgment of people from the past without understanding the past. But that’s one of the left’s favorite activities. (Though strangely the left/socialists’ centuries of failure, oppression and mass murder somehow remain buried in the sands of time or quickly excused as products and exceptions of the local conditions.)
As Churchill noted, “If the present tries to sit in judgment of the past it will lose the future.”
One last note, I think the whole “She’s a pistol-packin’ Republican mama!” argument, trotted out by some conservatives and Republicans as some kind of “gotcha!” is too clever by a half. Only a handful of people know this or will ever know this. Those facts are never going to be printed on the bill and the mainstream media will bury those facts in favor of the politically correct angle so our famously ignorant kids, and those following behind them, will never know that. After all, the “Tet Offensive” was a military disaster for the Viet Cong and their North Vietnamese masters yet thanks to spin by Walter Cronkite and other anti-war types, it has gone into many history and the public conscience as a victory for the invading northerners and the beginning of the (“inevitable”) end of South Vietnam. As the Clintons made clear — perception is reality.
Ironically, the Clintons were also big on redesigning money as well. They are the originators of the Monopoly-style money we have now.