Many people saw something to celebrate when the Treasury Department announced it would replace ethnic cleanser and former President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill with abolitionist Harriet Tubman. But as Full Frontal host Samantha Bee pointed out on her show Monday, not everyone was happy.
"When we make such a dramatic change to something no one ever looks at," Bee said, "we have to consider the fragile feelings of white men who tragically appear on only seven out of seven bills currently in production."
Bee honed in on Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade, who had a lot of feelings about Tubman replacing Jackson. Kilmeade asked, "How could you be remaking American history at this rate? It's incredible." He later said, "Others feel ousting a past president who's done so much in the founding of our country is an unbelievable sign of disrespect. I mean, you look at a guy that is a key member of America."
This gets a few things wrong, as Bee pointed out: "He was not a founding father. He was a genocidal prick who forced the relocation of nonwhites and fomented populist rebellion. Kind of like a [Donald] Trump with better hair."
Bee is right. Jackson was 8 years old when the American Revolution began. He had no significant role in the founding of the country.
Instead, Jackson's role in history, as my colleague Dylan Matthews pointed out, was acting as a "slaver, ethnic cleanser, and tyrant" who forced Native Americans out of their land, pushed for the expansion of slave states, and as a general temporarily abolished constitutional rights during the War of 1812 — even locking up a state legislator who resisted Jackson's attempts at instituting martial law.
Is it really surprising that the federal government would want to replace this man with someone who helped lead the Underground Railroad to free slaves and later fought for women's right to vote? Besides, Jackson will still be on the bill — just on the back, with Tubman on the front.