May 24, 2019

What a travesty to put Harriet Tubman in the center of this cheap, phony politics!

"With an election on the horizon the current administration can't afford to alienate America's bigots" — says the most-liked comment on the Washington Post editorial, "Mnuchin’s excuse for delaying the Harriet Tubman $20 bill is insulting."

The "insulting" excuse is that more time is needed to deal with "counterfeiting issues."

Obama's Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew, announced the decision to put Tubman on the 20 in April 2016, when it was too late for him to make it happen, but he had reason to think he'd boxed the next administration in. He said: "I don’t think somebody’s going to probably want to do that — to take the image of Harriet Tubman off of our money?"

The WaPo editors rub in the politics: "No one can blame [Lew] for a failure to imagine that any future administration would be so petty and narrow-minded as to go out of its way to thumb its nose at women, minorities and history."

This is such cheap race-and-gender politics — the choice to put Tubman on the 20, Lew's single-handed showiness, the faux outrage that Mnuchin isn't hopping to completing an assignment that was crafted to make it a political requirement, the gleeful appropriation of the genuine reverence for Tubman.

I had to look back to see how I reacted to Lew's original announcement. Here, in April 2016, I contemplated "The argument that Harriet Tubman wouldn't want to be on the $20 and that it disrespects her and appropriates her to use her that way"— an argument that began on the left:
I had not thought of this argument until I read Steven Hayward at Power Line making fun of it:
After years of complaining that America’s paper money featured only dead white guys, a lot of folks on the Left are in a snit that Harriet Tubman is going to replace Andrew Jackson on the face of the twenty-dollar bill.... If these people were any whinier they would be kicked out of pre-school....
Hayward links to Feminista Jones (a mental health social worker). I'll excerpt a different quote:
[I]t’s clear that putting [Tubman's] face on America’s currency would undermine her legacy. By escaping slavery and helping many others do the same, Tubman became historic for essentially stealing “property.” Her legacy is rooted in resisting the foundation of American capitalism. Tubman didn’t respect America’s economic system, so making her a symbol of it would be insulting....

Harriet Tubman did not fight for capitalism, free trade, or competitive markets. She repeatedly put herself in the line of fire to free people who were treated as currency themselves. She risked her life to ensure that enslaved black people would know they were worth more than the blood money that exchanged hands to buy and sell them. I do not believe Tubman, who died impoverished in 1913, would accept the “honor,” were it actually bestowed upon her, of having her face on America’s money.
It's such a huge honor to get your face put on money that we may lose sight of the fact that the government is taking a private individual's identity and using it for the government's interest in branding its currency. With a U.S. President, we can infer that the honor would be appreciated and the use of his face granted freely. But with someone who didn't voluntarily assume a position within government, it's harder to make that inference. Why does the government high-handedly assume the woman would give herself to the government's enterprise of merging its cash with lofty values and moral weight?

Power Line's Hayward also links to Steven W. Thrasher at The Guardian, who makes a somewhat different argument:
[T]here’s something frank and honest about [Andrew Jackson] occupying the 20 dollar bill. I mean, who better to represent what the US treasury has bought, and for whom it has amassed its tremendous wealth, than Andrew “trail of tears” Jackson?...

As historian Greg Grandin recently wrote: “Banks capitalized the slave trade and insurance companies underwrote it.”... This is the shit Tubman was escaping: the enslaved exploitation of black bodies for white profit. And it still happens today....

I am getting tired of the whitewashing of racial exploitation with brown faces. Enough with bullshit like McDonald’s slapping MLK’s face on their predatory and poverty creating labor practices.... Putting Tubman’s face on the $20 would only obfuscate how much exploitation there is still left to fight in America....
Thrasher's idea there is not so much Tubman's self-ownership and the importance of figuring out whether she, personally, would agree to play a role in the U.S. government's currency-branding project. Thrasher isn't talking about how Tubman herself would feel, but how he — and the people like him — feel. He's here now, concretely — on the pavement, thinking about the government — and he doesn't like it. He himself appropriates Tubman: her image and identity should be preserved for use on the things he supports. She belongs to him and the people he thinks he speaks for, and he wants to decide where she goes.
So I reject Lew's decision, but I doubt if Mnuchin is on the same page with me. But if he were, there is no way he could say that publicly and be understood and heard. The level of discourse in American politics these days is so low that generally the most intelligent thing you can say is nothing at all. But Mnuchin must say something, and he came out with that anti-counterfeiting bullshit. Of course, that's scoffed at, but that's the language in which politics is conducted these days — scoffing.

What a travesty to put Harriet Tubman in the center of that cheap phony politics!

65 comments:

rhhardin said...

You want somebody on the currency who stood up for full faith and credit, not feelings. Our black foremothers is a SJW takeover and doesn't cut it.

rehajm said...

I still believe if you put swimsuit Farrah on the $100 the US remains the world's reserve currency forever.

rhhardin said...

Honoring women complaining would be a weak currency.

We'll take your money even if you're loathesome because the system depends on that rule, not feelings. A man's currency.

rehajm said...

(Prolly not what rhhardin had on mind...)

rhhardin said...

Althouse is worried about the woman, not the currency.

Those dead white guys supported the rules, which the currency has to embody.

"Still enough men left in government for the currency to have value."

rhhardin said...

If you put a pretty woman on the currency, it's no longer currency. It's a wallet Playboy magazine. A barter item.

gilbar said...

imagine The Gall of Trump's Lackey? Being concerned with preventing counterfeiting!!
Next thing you know; Those Damn Republicans are going to try stopping voter fraud!
It's OUR RIGHT to make our own money! And our own votes!

Shouting Thomas said...

This "America's bigots" shit is a deliberate, flagrant lie.

Among all the lies the left peddles, the foundational lie is that America is the land of the bigots.

The liars who keep repeating this slander are extortionists trying to get their paws on public money.

Althouse could help by ceasing peddling the lie that women have some sort of class bitch.

The anti-bigotry crusade is evil. Stop it. Now.

Humperdink said...

I guess it's not about the Benjamins after all.

rehajm said...

it's no longer currency. It's a wallet Playboy magazine. A barter item.

It will remain a currency and become a barter item, like those Zimbabwe 100 trillion dollar bills.

rhhardin said...

Are there naked women on the currency already? Some statue or other engraved in.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

There’s still time for Treasury to roll this out during Trump's first term. And you just know Trump will highlight the relevant facts of Tubman’s life. I can’t wait until Trump elucidates her fight against the Democrat slave-runners, her proud Republicanism, the fact she had to carry a concealed handgun to protect herself before the KKK and Democrats created the concept of “gun control” to disarm Black Americans. Nothing like a well-armed Black Republican woman to spark a national conversation.

roesch/voltaire said...

A real American hero who is black ain’t going going to make it on any bill in this administration, period.

Dave Begley said...

Why not have both?

By any objective measure, Andrew Jackson was a way more important person in this country's history. Taubman was a bit player.

narayanan said...

rhhardin said... You want somebody on the currency who stood up for full faith and credit ...

Are you saying in your view it does not count that -

Tubman standing for full faith and credit ... of the freedom promised at the Founding

Ignorance is Bliss said...

But Mnuchin must say something, and he came out with that anti-counterfeiting bullshit.

Aside from the fact that a politician was saying it, do you have any reason to believe that the counterfeiting reason was not true? Do you know of any widespread opposition to Tubman from people on the right?

There were some people suggesting that the bill be redesigned to use the image of her carrying a pistol.

Lewis Wetzel said...

"Her legacy is rooted in resisting the foundation of American capitalism."
The South was agrarian, the North was capitalist.

Lewis Wetzel said...

I think they should replace the portrait of Andy Jackson on the $20 with a big ol' portrait of Mohammad, to honor our Muslim population.
Burn!

Sally327 said...

Using actual cash is becoming so rare these days, other than for a certain type of "business", it seems entirely possible that a whole generation of Americans will soon come of age without ever actually seeing a $20 bill.

wwww said...

"But with someone who didn't voluntarily assume a position within government, it's harder to make that inference."

Would be a misunderstanding of history to assume Tubman did not volunteer to fight for the United States of America or the Army of the Republic. Was loyal to Union military. Served as a spy and recruiter for the Union military. Served as a recruiters, Scout and a Spy for South Carolina Generals throughout much of the War. General David Hunter asked her to scout and assist in a raid on a South Carolina river w/ Jayhawker James Montgomery during the Civil War. She served herself and she was al soldier's wife. Tubman received a Civil War pension as a military wife and Congress increased her pension to recognize her own service during the war.

To suggest she was not patriotic or loyal to the USA, or never joined the government, or fought for the USA, is to misunderstand her as a historical figure.

Lewis Wetzel said...

"Blogger roesch/voltaire said...
A real American hero who is black ain’t going going to make it on any bill in this administration, period.

5/24/19, 7:56 AM"
Just like every other administration in the history of the country.
Like shooting ducks in a barrel, some days.

rehajm said...

Standing liberty quarters had one naked boobie.

rhhardin said...

Lincoln penny, John Gorka "Oh Abraham"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bXcjRH7mn4

Rob said...

They should put Nicki Minaj’s giant ass on the back of the 20.

tim maguire said...

There's more to America than capitalism, objecting on those grounds is...narrow. I don't presume to know how Tubman would feel being put on the $20 bill, but I see no reason to doubt she'd be honored.

I wonder why the professor let the WaPo off the hook for their offensive assumption that countering counterfeiting is insulting. Their claim strikes me as outrageously irresponsible. If I could have less respect for the WaPo editorial offices, I would. But alas, they have already scraped out the bottom of that barrel.

tim maguire said...

narayanan said...Tubman standing for full faith and credit ... of the freedom promised at the Founding

Bingo!!

gilbar said...

Mike said...
the relevant facts of Tubman’s life. I can’t wait until Trump elucidates her fight against the Democrat slave-runners, her proud Republicanism, the fact she had to carry a concealed handgun to protect herself before the KKK and Democrats created the concept of “gun control” to disarm Black Americans. Nothing like a well-armed Black Republican woman to spark a national conversation.

Shhh! don't tell!
Next thing you know, people might start wondering about Martin Luther King's Political affiliation

rhhardin said...

Real money is money you'd accept back in another transaction.

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

"...says the most-liked comment on the Washington Post editorial..."

I don't think WaPo has any non-crazy, non-stupid commenters. They make even NYT commenters look mature and disinterested by comparison.

"This is such cheap race-and-gender politics..."

You were expecting otherwise? Does WaPo do anything else these days?

You keep wringing your hands about stuff like this, as if it were remarkable in any way, instead of what's been standard for quite a while now.

Lewis Wetzel said...

They should replace all the portraits on American currency with portraits of the characters from The Beverly Hillbillies.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Or you could put Zuckerberg's picture on all the bills, since he'll have all the money pretty soon anyhow.

Fernandistein said...

What a travesty to put Harriet Tubman in the center of this cheap, phony politics!

LOL. It's almost like ole Harriet is some sort of religious icon...

Harriet Tubman wouldn't want

...WWHTW - What Would Harriet Tubman Want?

We sure could use a picture of an ugly crazy woman on the twenty. Because deeply healing.

"Trump hated the idea. As a candidate, he branded it “pure political correctness,” sounding the dog whistle for his supporters who were uncomfortable with the notion that women and African Americans were the equals of white males when it came to establishing this nation of equal justice under law."

LOL.2.

Francisco D said...

A real American hero who is black ain’t going going to make it on any bill in this administration, period.

You are much more of a childish twit than I imagined r/v.

I cannot imagine that you believe your own bullshit.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Ha! The LA Times editors hear a dog whistle designed to be heard only by racists.
I wonder if the woke folk know how stupid they look to normal people.

Roy Jacobsen said...

I did some quick web searches to try to find out which bill is most often counterfeited, and it appears that the $100 holds that distinction when you're looking at world-widecirculation; however, in the US, the $20 might be more frequently encountered. (One source did say that the fake $20s found in circulation in the US are usually pretty crappy fakes.) The Department of the Treasury estimates that $70 million in counterfeit notes are in circulation (the estimate is based on the number of fake notes seized).

So counterfeit currency is not an insignificant problem. Why the usual suspects don't want to give any credence to that explanation for the delay in the Tubman note is predictable because Orange Man Bad.

Fernandistein said...

Robert Oppenheimer would symbolize America's "can do" innovative spirit and world-leading ability to blow things up.

RNB said...

That's OK. They'll get it taken care of during Trump's second term.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

RV shows his own racism. Trump is a lot less racist than the last president. And that’s good for all Americans.

Mike Sylwester said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EDH said...

How about Tubman and shirtless Charlton Heston both exclaiming "From my cold dead hands!"?

Mike Sylwester said...

Democracy Dies in Darkness!

Seeing Red said...

I’ve been thinking for awhile we need a $25 bill. Put her on that.

Shane said...

Ann, you are brilliant! Its not said enough, but thank you for every post, every thought and every vortex you allowed us to be swallowed up in that may otherwise not know.

Rabel said...

Why not have bills in five dollar denominations? Then all the colors of the beautiful American rainbow could have their well deserved photographic currency representation. You know they're eventually going to have to make room for Obama and Michelle somehow.

A quick count tells me we might have to go with one dollar denoms. I've got a few ideas for the three.

Original Mike said...

Blogger Mike (MJB Wolf) said..."There’s still time for Treasury to roll this out during Trump's first term. And you just know Trump will highlight the relevant facts of Tubman’s life. I can’t wait until Trump elucidates her fight against the Democrat slave-runners, her proud Republicanism, the fact she had to carry a concealed handgun to protect herself before the KKK and Democrats created the concept of “gun control” to disarm Black Americans. Nothing like a well-armed Black Republican woman to spark a national conversation."

Hey Jack Lew!
This petard's for you.

Drago said...

Remember when Bill Clinton had Statehood for DC license plates put on Presidential vehicles....as he was leaving?

Right about the time the lefties in govt were removing the "W" from govt keyboards.

But according to the lefties and LLR's its Trump that is destroying decorum.

William said...

Andrew Jackson did away with the Bank of America. He was always a poor choice to put on our currency. I'd recommend J.P. Morgan. He rescued our entire banking system at one point when it was on the verge of collapse. A tru!y brave and inspiring banker. In addition to his courageous banking practices, he struggled with rosacea all his life but never once complained......Shouldn't the capitalists who, after all, were the people who made America great, have some sort of representation on our currency.

mtrobertslaw said...

How about a statute of Booker T. Washington in front of the Capital Building? Even the mere suggestion would drive the left bonkers.

donald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Birches said...

People didn't like the idea of a woman on the currency because it was pure PC BS. It was a targeted campaign by feminist groups. Remember how they first were going to replace Alexander Hamilton, but there are too many activists who have decided that Lin Manuel Miranda is actually Alexander Hamilton? So then they quickly went with Jackson. There was nothing methodical or uniform about the process.

mikeski said...

Penny, nickel, dime, quarter. Dollar bill, five, ten, twenty, fifty, hundo.

If you want to be on real money, you need an argument for being, literally, in the top-ten greatest Americans ever.

You can get one of the mostly-uncirculated consolation prizes (50-cent piece, dollar coin, $2 bill) if you can break the top thirteen.

iowan2 said...

I know the name only since its been in the news about adding her to the currency. I have no idea who she is, or why I should care. Honoring persons of historical accomplishment should be a serious matter. Tubman fails that on all levels. No one knows why she is being pushed. This comes under the category of "experts" doing what is best for the all the idiots that don't know anything so they need to shut up sit down, do as our self selected, intellectual, and political betters deem proper. Very condescending to what ever group is being pandered to.

How about a person of accomplishment?

Norman Borlaug has single handedly saved more people from starvation, than any National government ever in existence, including he United States.
This is a person that should be honored for his life's contribution to humanity. What ever accomplishment touted by Tubman fails in comparison.

PM said...

Tubman. Thank God. At first I read Tubgirl.

mockturtle said...

The lefties will change their tune about Tubman when they learn what a strong Christian she was. I have no objection to the bill but kinda hate to see Andrew Jackson disrespected.

Fritz said...

Seeing Red said...
I’ve been thinking for awhile we need a $25 bill. Put her on that.


How about the $33.3333333333... bill? Three to a hundred.

Birkel said...

Conservatives love Republican Harriet Tubman and her advocacy for gun rights.
She resisted (heh!) Democrats who wanted to keep her a second class citizen.

Jack Lew thought he was boxing in racist Democrats like Hillary.

Bob said...

The entire problem could be solved quite easily if we just removed all faces from US currency and coin.

Phil said...


Blogger PM said...
Tubman. Thank God. At first I read Tubgirl.

That would take care of the counterfeit concerns; no one would want to.

Yancey Ward said...

They should put her on the dime.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

Roy Jacobsen: counterfeiting is not an insignificant problem.

I saw something on TV about how Americans love the look and feel of "greenbacks," so they resist the new technologies in colours, textures, overlaying various graphics, hidden or not, that would make the currency more secure. Americans, er, lag behind in this respect.

Fen said...

A real American hero who is black ain’t going going to make it on any bill in this administration, period.

Obama had 8 years do that. What gives? He's a racist too?

Jim at said...

The Obama Administration had eight years to do this and it's now Trump's fault it didn't happen.

n.n said...

Appropriation of image, likeness, and intent as a political prop.

blnelson2 said...

The travesty is to substitute her on any bill.

Bilwick said...

Maybe someone discovered that, as Instapundit is often saying, Tubman was a gun-toting Republican.