As Amy Goodman and Dennis Moynihan state, legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman would seem to many of us to be the quintessence of what American democracy is all about, at its best:
The story of Harriet Tubman, of her courageous resistance to injustice, of her fight to free slaves, for equality for women—all this must be the common currency of our democracy.
But what's self-evident to many of us is apparently opaque to a lot of the rest of us, we now discover after the Treasury Department has announced it plans to remove Andrew Jackson from the front of the $20 bill (he'll go to the back of the bill), and replace him with Harriet Tubman. As Brendan Gauthier reported yesterday, more than a few knickers are atwist at this announcement.
And as Amanda Marcotte notes this morning, it's because black. And female. And some of us count while others don't:
[I]n a move that was entirely predictable, right wing pundits are in meltdown, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that, regardless of any surface claims to believe in equality, the reality is that they adhere to the belief that white men are the only ones who really matter and the rest of us are just the supporting cast. . . .
That there's so much tantrum throwing over what is ultimately just a symbolic gesture says a lot about the current state of American politics. The left gets criticized a lot for "identity politics," but nothing the left does can even come close to touching the petty identity politics that lead one to demand that money be reserved for white men only, because your fragile sense of self is so violated by the idea that anyone else could have made contributions worth honoring.
I'll give the last word about this tempest in a teapot to Charles Pierce, whose commentary on it is, as always, spry and sharp:
If you'll pardon my obvious gloating, I have to say that the replacement of Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman is the best thing to happen to money since the last time I won some. . . . Surely I'm not the only person to note that Jackson was forcibly removed from his longtime location and made to go to another by order of the United States government.
It seems some knickers get atwist without very much effort at all, does it not?
The mock-up of a $20 featuring Harriet Tubman's picture is at numerous sites online right now; I do not see a clear indication of its source at any of these I have visited.