ONLINE EXCLUSIVE BY JACOB MCKAY
In the Internet age, it seems that controversy is almost a constant presence. Its absence is a surprise because we have become so used to moving on to the next newsworthy issue. Twitter timelines constantly provide a steady diet of controversy to satiate our appetite for espousing our opinions.
That’s why there was no reason to be surprised by the controversy on the Internet that quickly surrounded the U.S. Treasury’s decision to place Harriet Tubman on the twenty-dollar bill. The decision will place President Andrew Jackson on the back of the bill, which many consider a slight to a president who was vital in keeping America together.
Andrew Jackson paid off the entire national debt, was one of the forefathers of the modern Democratic Party and got our country through the nullification crisis. All of these things are what typically mark a successful presidency. All of the things listed were vital to get our nation to where it is now, but that is definitely not the whole story.
Andrew Jackson was responsible for the Trail of Tears, through the signing of the Indian Removal Act. That dark spot in our nations history is still glossed over all too much. When Harriet Tubman was announced as being the new face of the twenty-dollar bill, detractors immediately brought up Jackson’s accomplishments as president, saying he didn’t deserve to be removed.
Well, the Trail of Tears makes his Presidency a lot less than perfect. The Jacksonian legacy must include that genocide. The incomplete dialogue on Jackson shows how insensitive America still is in even talking about our treatment of native peoples.
Harriet Tubman is a black female hero and therefore an American hero. We all know about the Underground Railroad and her status as a symbol of freedom. The argument that she doesn’t belong on currency because she is not a president is flawed because when was Ben Franklin a president?
A lot of people will not say that they don’t want Harriet Tubman on money because she’s a black woman, but a lot of people feel that. A lot of people don’t think it matters. A lot of people are very excited.
The discussion on this issue highlights the variety of loud opinions that exist in this country on whose face is on a bill. A bill that poor people will still not see enough of, a bill that Wall Street will continue to make.
Money is everything in this country, but what it looks like isn’t the issue. It is because we made it one, instead of talking about how that money is distributed. America in the Internet age is predictable, non-issues are issues and we’ll just Tweet about it instead of doing anything anyways.