Maryland’s Elijah Cummings recently reintroduced a bill to replace President Andrew Jackson’s portrait on the $20 bill with the face of another icon of freedom, Harriet Tubman. Unfortunately, in this period of political correctness, we are apparently forced into a false dichotomy of having to choose.
Targeting Andrew Jackson, the hero of New Orleans, as a slave-holding, murderous racist unfit to grace our U.S. currency is revisionist history and intellectual laziness. Jackson had flaws, but his valiant, resolute, brilliant leadership of an inclusive mob of an army that melded white, black, native and Creole Americans with French, pirates, urban elite and poor farmers to save our fledgling country deserves continued respect.
Without him, the western boundary of the U.S. would be the Mississippi and we would be speaking a different English — the King’s English — or Spanish (Dial 9 to continue in Spanish). Jackson is an American hero. Vilifying him without historical context demeans our national experiment and how far we have come as a country.
I am growing weary of non-thinking utopianism that fills the political arena today. Every passing day brings us more self-serving politicians who undermine the country’s traditions, principles and heroes for short-term political gain. It is hard to take their earnest pleas for inclusivity, equality and end-of-days climactic change seriously when we all know every word they utter falls into the realm of political calculous or just attention-grabbing theater.
Harriet Tubman is a hero, and all Americans should celebrate her. It is diminishing to do this through a zero-sum attack on Old Hickory. Both Jackson and Tubman are gifts from our past.
We see this zero-sum approach more and more every day from our leaders who clamor for: the Green New Deal or free everything for everyone, the country can host all people from the planet without consequence, the rich can pay more, not remembering investors can move their corporations along with jobs to other countries, robots won’t replace you but even if they do you’ll have time to read that new novel or work on your art, and the Electoral College is an archaic relic (without it, say adios to any influence small states have) from that outdated piece of paper the U.S. Constitution thinking it should be a living document that keeps up with our times.
All these new strident clamors for change (because we can) allow for no discourse or discussion. Without discourse, without unfettered competition of ideas and the belief that the government should be used to reshape every aspect of society, whether it wants to be reshaped or not, ultimately impinges on all our individual rights and risks the loss of our miracle, the United States of America.