How goes the culture war — that endless, awkward struggle of conservatives, armed only with shaking fists and wagging fingers, to turn back America’s surging tide of sex positivity, racial diversity, and gender neutrality? Hilariously, as usual.
Take, for example, the announcement from Obama’s Treasury department last week. After months of threatening to replace Alexander Hamilton on the ten-dollar bill with an appropriate female American historical figure, the Treasury decided to instead remove Andrew Jackson from the face of the twenty — shifting him to the back and replacing his visage with that of 19th-century black freedom fighter Harriet Tubman.
As American conservatism is increasingly a white people’s movement, you might expect rightbloggers to portray this as just another instance of black people and women getting all the breaks at the expense of white men. And in some cases you’d be right.
“HARRIET TUBMAN? SERIOUSLY?” roared John Hinderaker at Power Line. “Harriet Tubman’s contributions are admirable, but minor.” In defending Old Hickory, Hinderaker did not mention the Bank War, the Nullification Crisis, nor any of the other victories that distinguished Jackson’s Presidency. Instead, he noted that Jackson was “combative” and “tough in a way that is hard for most Americans, these days, to understand.” Hideraker was also sure that if Jackson were alive today he wouldn’t like Barack Obama (“Wow. I don’t think we can print Jackson’s reaction in a family web site,” he fantasized), and possibly not even just because he considered black people inferior.
Some Guy at Return of Kings, a men’s rights activism site, also leaned on Jackson’s roughness and toughness (“Involved in over 103 duels”), though he did at least allude to the Bank War. “Jackson hated the private banking cartels and fought them aggressively through his presidency,” he said. “…Now the Federal Reserve, which is our modern private banking system, gets their revenge while mocking the American people by removing their historical enemy.”
Some Guy also scoffed at sissified “SJWs” who cheered the switch because Jackson had been “a total meanie to the Indians and stuff,” pointing out that Indians were dangerous to the white people who stole their land. Also, he said one academic study had trouble pinning down details of Tubman’s life, which Some Guy took to mean that “most of [Tubman’s] deeds were excessively exaggerated or completely made up.” Reminding his fellow fedora-wearers that the change wouldn’t go through till 2020, he exhorted them meantime to “go to battle against shills any chance you get…until the official narrative is busted open in the mainstream….” Well, maybe it’ll keep them busy.
At the Federalist, Bre Payton blamed the switch on the power-madness of that notorious Big Gummint factotum, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. “It seems this isn’t really about Tubman at all,” she cried. “Rather, she is is [sic] being used to fulfill the desires of a man’s desperate attempts to make paper currency seem relevant again.” Millennials see right through that shit! Cash is trash, credit is like Reddit!
But some of the less-Trumpy rightbloggers came up with a different, indeed counterintuitive, idea: That Tubman was actually a conservative choice because she was a Republican — an easy call for black people during the Civil War — and supported the Second Amendment — that is, used guns in the commission of her dangerous duties as a Union spy and liberator of slaves. Seen this way, the argument went, Tubman was not really different from, say, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
“Breaking: Treasury throws founder of the Democratic Party off $20 bill, replaces with gun-toting Republican,” tweeted David Burge of Iowahawk.
“Zing,” enthused Mallory Shelbourne of the Independent Journal Review. “…So there you have it. The first ‘Democrat’ making way for a gun-wielding African-American who helped fight slavery.”
“In short, Harriet Tubman was a black, Republican, gun-toting, veterans’ activist,” said Eli Lehrer at National Review. And if she were alive today, Lehrer bet, “she probably wouldn’t have an ounce of patience for the obtuse posturing of some of the tenured radicals hanging around Ivy League faculty lounges.” Just like Hinderaker said about Jackson and Obama! Maybe Jackson and Tubman should be shown on the twenty together, with their arms around each other.
The editors of National Review tried to have it both ways in their editorial on the subject. On the one hand, they condemned the currency change as the work of “a faction of the feminist Left” who had perversely decided “it was time for our currency to boast ‘a woman.’ ” (Interesting use of scare quotes, that.) Now the business threatened to get out of hand: “After all, why not Cesar Chavez?” asked the editors. “Why not Harvey Milk?” First a black woman, next maybe a Chicano and a homosexual! Eventually these fem-libs will demand Christine Jorgensen on the fifty!
On the other hand, the NR editors approved of Tubman because she was “a Republican, a devout Christian, and a staunch defender of the right to bear arms.” That memo got around fast.
“Not only was Tubman what today would make her an NRA icon, she was also a staunch anti-slavery Republican,” said Jeffrey Lord, a TV commentator famous for missing the past 150 years of racial politics in America. “…I can’t wait for the media to acknowledge that the removal of Jackson is an admission that American Left has long thrived on a culture of racism.”
“Just as Democrats sought to enslave and disarm blacks back then, they now seek to entrap them in high-crime urban areas run by liberal Democrats who seek to deny them, and the rest of us, the right to keep and bear arms,” added Daniel John Sobieski at American Thinker. Wait’ll black people hear about this! Bet you libtards are sorry you liked her now.
So, to sum up, both liberals and conservatives consider this a victory: Liberals because a famous African-American liberationist displaced an old, white slave master from the currency; and conservatives because liberals are the Real Racists™ and Tubman had guns — and unlike, say, Assata Shakur, can no longer use them against white people. So, we’re all winners, really.
Now let’s see how they react to the next big currency change: Ulysses S. Grant comes off the 50, to be replaced by Ronald Reagan signing the Mulford Act.