A Useable Past

It was only a matter of time. The equality cult has been institutionalized at all levels of American society. Sovereign currency aesthetics—the most staid and retarded of institutions—is simply catching up to where society was 30 years ago.

Tubman replacing Jackson on the $20, Hamilton spared


Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reverses a plan to bump Hamilton after receiving fierce blowback.

Harriet Tubman will bump Andrew Jackson from the front of the $20 bill while Alexander Hamilton will stay put on the $10 — a historic move that gives a woman prime placement on U.S. currency and quells a controversy kicked up by Hamilton super-fans.

“Today, I’m excited to announce that for the first time in more than a century, the front of our currency will feature the portrait of a woman, Harriet Tubman, on the $20 note,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told reporters during a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “Her incredible story of courage and commitment to equality embody the ideals of democracy that our nation celebrates, and we’ll continue to value her legacy by honoring her on our currency.”

Lew rolled out sweeping changes that will put a new cast of historic figures onto various bills that have remained largely static for decades. Leaders of the women’s suffrage movement will make their way onto the back of the $10 bill, while civil rights era leaders and other important moments in American history will be incorporated into the $5 bill. Jackson will be kicked to the back of the $20 bill.

Andrew Jackson—the Indian fighter and, intriguingly, enemy of the Second Bank of the United States—had few influential defenders. Alexander Hamilton, on the other hand, seems to have been rescued from Dead White Maleness by being reimagined as an “immigrant founder” and by becoming the unlikely titular hero of a hip-hop musical on Broadway, in which Blacks and Hispanics are cast as the Founding Fathers, and which has received much cringey critical acclaim. (If Ta Nehisi Coates can win a “genius grant,” then why shouldn’t the Pulitzer Prize be bestowed upon Hamilton?)

And the rise of Tubman and Hamilton reveal something important. The Great Erasure—the racial and cultural transformation of White societies—will not necessarily occur through iconoclasm, such as the taking down of the Confederate Flag. The more powerful and lasting transformations occur through a kind of synthesis of Left and Right, equality and tradition, revolution and institution: Tubman on the $20 . . . Black Founding Fathers . . . President Barack Obama.

In Hamilton, Aaron Burr sings.

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a
Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a
Forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence
Impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?
The ten-dollar founding father without a father. . .

Hunter Wallace documents that there is no shortage of cuckservatives eager to tie a bow around their racial displacement and pretend like they’re secretly winning, as opposed to obviously losing. In their minds, Harriet Tubman was a gun-toting, evangelical Republican!

Regarding gay marriage, a friend of mine accurately prophesied that first conservatives would oppose it . . . then accept it . . . then claim they invented it! This is what, in the German context, is called the "search for a useable past." And it was exactly conservatives' mental trajectory with the civil-rights movement.

Whatever you want to say about William F. Buckley, legend has it that when he learned that more American school children could recognize Harriet Tubman than Joseph Stalin, he remarked, in effect, “Who the hell is Harriet Tubman!?”