Friday, April 22, 2016

More on Harriet Tubman and the strange politics around Andrew Jackson's image

The Young Turks reported on the demotion of Andrew Jackson's image to the back of the $20 bill. Unfortunately, in this report they used some simplistic historical assumptions about Jackson, although Cenk Uygur does add a bit of sensible nuance. Harriet Tubman Will Soon Be On $20 Bill 04/20/2016:

Charlie Pierce actually is well-informed about Jackson's career and historical significance. He comments on the $20 bill controversy in Maybe the Arc of the Moral Universe Really Does Bend Toward Justice Esquire Politics Blog 04/20/2016.

I covered some of the same ground I've gone over recently. But I'm fine with putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. I wouldn't even mind if they took Jackson off altogether. It is kind of depressing to see present-day white supremacists defending Andrew Jackson, most of them knowing nothing about what he did or who he was.

But hack history also bums me out. It's depressing to hear what most people on the left side of the spectrum seem to be saying about him. Because it sounds like many of them/us are willing to completely surrender the symbolism of the American Revolution and the early decades of the Republic to conservatives. Who use a shameless fake like David Barton to rewrite the Founders into whatever the Republican Party and hate radio want them to be at any given moment.

Jackson's successful fight against the Bank of the United States, aka, the Money Power, is one of the progressive/populist/left things he did that really was in support of the "common people," a phrase used often then.

And his successful fight against the vile Calhoun and South Carolina's Nullification Act was critically important to defending democracy and national unity. In fact, it was arguably Jackson who started the (still unfinished) identification of American patriotism/nationalism with democracy. As in, you can't have one without the other. And that means that secession for the defense of slavery was fundamentally anti-democracy. This is why in my mind, Jackson and what he represented is an appropriate counter-image against Lost Cause, neo-Confederacy ideology.

Also, he went for big changes. (He was obviously one of those BernieBros who don't understand that only small, incremental changes are worth talking about!)

Here is a YouTube video of a PBS documentary on Jackson - which annoyingly seems to be no longer available at the PBS website, Andrew Jackson - Good Evil & The Presidency - PBS Documentary 06/11/2016:

1 comment:

BorderRuffian said...


Not "Old Hickory blog" anymore? LOL