Friday, April 17, 2015

So Marilyn Monroe is out of the question?


     I try not to burden myself with guidelines when writing this column.
     But I do have one rule: Try not to advocate the impossible. Thus no modest proposals, no utopian dreams. Live in the world of the practical.
     Wasn't always so. In the past, I've pushed quixotic quests, such as getting rid of the paper dollar, lulled into a false sense of possibility because less hidebound nations are capable of it. Great Britain has no paper pound, Canada no paper dollar, for instance. Saves them billions.
     But we can't. Americans think of themselves as dynamic and fearless — and maybe we were, once. But now we're skittish and change averse.
     That said, I see the appeal of impossible quests, such as the effort to boot Indian-slayer Andrew Jackson off the $20 bill and replace him with a woman.
     It's an odd piece of tokenism. Just as being on a U.S. postage stamp has lost its cachet — I could create legal U.S. postal stamps honoring my dog — so currency is about to be mooted by cash cards.
     But it's still significant enough for advocates to create a website and get a bill introduced into the Senate this week by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) forming an advisory committee, as only the Treasury Department could actually make such a change.
     Before we visit the website, let's ask: What woman should have the honor of debuting on U.S. currency? (A real woman, I mean, discounting all those allegorical figures of liberty and electricity and such.)
     A tough question. She'd be going head to head with Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Grant (the latter two don't really belong; maybe Jackson should stay and one of them go).
     Four candidates? Off the top of my head, I'd go with Emily Dickinson, Clara Barton, Amelia Earhart and Jane Addams. It isn't a diverse list — no women of color — but it's my list, and I didn't want to pander.
     Not a concern for those advocating the change. Go to their website, womenon20s.org, and you're introduced to their four finalists: Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Wilma Mankiller.
     Heartbreaking. While energetic and independent in her own right, Eleanor Roosevelt's claim to fame is she married a man who became president. Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks — if you're looking for a black woman, they're two. But compare either, historically, to, say, Martin Luther King and I don't think I'd be alone in preferring they choose King and shelve the whole honor-a-woman idea.
     Wilma Mankiller? And she is? "First elected chief of a Native Nation." Died in 2010. An utterly unknown woman whose name expresses the fears of half of America when contemplating feminism. That's a good idea.
     Those four were voted in, supposedly, from an list of 15. Looking at that list, Rachel Carson popped out. She'd be the best call, part of a top-to-bottom currency redo focusing on the environment. (See how these impossible quests draw you in?) Or Susan B. Anthony, though she's already been on the dollar coin, and what a failure that was. Margaret Sanger? Really? The birth-control advocate? A person responsible for far more deaths, at least in the conservative view, than Andrew Jackson ever caused. Yeah, that'll go over well. We'll end up with a third of the country refusing to touch a $20 bill. I'm surprised they didn't include Emma Goldman and Madalyn Murray O'Hair (notorious red radical and fierce atheist, respectively, if those names don't ring a bell).
     Looking over their list of candidates, I caught myself thinking, "Women really haven't had much impact on U.S. history, have they?" Which can't be the intention. Women have had an impact, of course, but if we're honoring the gender, we should go back to allegory: suffragettes, pioneers, textile workers, mothers. It's so strange to push Wilma Mankiller and ignore their contributions. Then again, the whole effort is going to amount to nothing, so no need to get too worked up over which specific woman won't be honored on the twenty.

53 comments:

  1. "So Marilyn Monroe is out of the question?" I find that funny as hell. Thanks.

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  2. As long as we're dreaming the impossible dream...Who's the woman who best represents the spirit of America in this early part of the 21st century? Who do we look to for inspiration and moral guidance? Yes, there is only one...Kim Kardashian! And in another bold move, we could put her "back porch" on the other side of the bill.

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  3. It's a shame that Jackson, in the name of pc, has now been made out to be as nothing more than an Indian killer. Not entirely true and you can 't judge earlier people by today's standards, in such matters.

    I think Eleanor did a lot more than just marry a President.

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    1. Do we toss out Jefferson and Washington too, since they owned slaves? Or the explorers who also contributed to mapping and discovering as well? Dangerous things that some groups didn't have the know how on doing for lack of ships? We can't just see the negative. Revisionist history goes too far at times, to appease some.

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    2. To me it's anachronism: applying the standards of today to condemn those in the past, forgetting that, without those people, we wouldn't HAVE the standards to today. Frankly, I'd rather keep Jackson. He did create a national bank.

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    3. Bit of a dodge, isn't it, particularly in regards to Jefferson. I mean, the guy raped a woman he owned because he resembled his dead wife. That was considered taboo, even in his day. Although I can appreciate the revolutionary fever that Jefferson's language whipped up, I think he should be chucked off every bit of currency we produce.

      Some stuff is just too far.

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    4. And replaced by someone whose personal history is less well known? Strikes me as vindictive -- who among us comes out well from the damn-them-for-their-worst-flaw test. Eisenhower had a mistress too, yet somehow it just doesn't stick to him.

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    5. Scott, Jefferson did not rape Sally Hemings or any other slave. He didn't like her just cause she looked like his wife, who was her half sister. Sally was very much interested in Jefferson and not just for the good it might do her and it's terrible to equate his true love with real rapists in the cabins.

      Mr. S, I agree, let's not chuck Jackson, just to put a lady on there.(and I say this as a female) He didn't like the Bank or Nicholas Biddle but looked out for the common man. He was a hero in the War of 1812 too, even if the battle of New Orleans was after the fact.

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    6. Jackson actually thought the national bank was unconstitutional -- now that was a thought ahead of its time.

      John

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    7. Exactly, Tate, but his meddling with the banks caused a recession with the underfunded pet banks. His kitchen Cabinet, as his cronies were called, didn't always know what they were doing. This caused a recession that Van Buren got blamed for later.

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  4. Good idea, but according to law, people depicted on currency have to have been dead for two years.

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  5. You should read Ron Chernow's book about Hamilton. I think he gets kind of under rated as an important person. After all he wrote most of the Federalist papers. The Central Bank was his idea. Chernow said he was the most important person in America that was never president Even back then I don't know if he could have become president since he was not been born here. Of course when he was born we were part of Great Britain. It would have been an interesting question if he had not been killed by Burr. Hamilton was only in his 40's Just think how much more he could have contributed to the country if he had lived even another 20 years.

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    1. I agree. Hamilton deserves to be considered one of the "Founding Fathers," for writing the bulk of the Federalist Papers, his military contribution as Chief of Staff to General Washington, and his enormous influence on economics and banking as our first Secretary of the Treasury. There was even a Clintoesque aspect to his career. He had a notorious extra-marital affair, for which his wife, who defended his reputation to the end of her life, forgave him.

      Tom Evans

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    2. Tom--While I agree with the general sentiment about Hamilton, IIRC, it wasn't just one affair.

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    3. The Constitution has a clause, that no longer applies: Article II, Section 1: "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President"

      So if Hamilton was a citizen in 1787, which he was, he was eligible to be president.

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  6. Well said, Sanford. Hamilton indeed helped set up our economic system. It's a shame some people think he was President, because he's on a bill. Yes, what a waste that Burr lived and look at his other scheming.

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  7. Though my left field suggestion for a new person to honor on currency is the incredibly underrated/recognized African-American inventor/teacher/poet Lewis Latimore, I think Tubman is pretty important. I also think we could recognize the value of spouses (say Coretta Scott King), though I think that would be problematic.

    As for Rachel Carson, though I don't know how much of this is her fault rather than the knee-jerk evidence-be-damned "environmentalists" who took up her cause, DDT bans are beyond shameful - they've caused the slow, agonizing deaths of MILLIONS of people in Africa (from malaria) - it's a terrible legacy of "Silent Spring" and one that to this day progressives bury their heads in the sand or, worse, offer up a fanciful expensive substitute that they demand others pay for less the suffering and death continue ("let them use mosquito nets").

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    1. Interesting point, AnA. I guess the replacement pesticides didn't work as well. But there may be something too the DDT side effects as well.

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    2. There's some evidence pointing towards limited side effects - serious enough to be considered but compared to the immensity of the problem in high risk areas a no brainer. The main charge against DDT was/is that it is a carcinogen. From Wikipedia:

      In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control reported that "Overall, in spite of some positive associations for some cancers within certain subgroups of people, there is no clear evidence that exposure to DDT/DDE causes cancer in humans."[1] The NTP classifies it as "reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen," the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies it as a "possible" human carcinogen, and the EPA classifies DDT, DDE, and DDD as class B2 "probable" carcinogens. These evaluations are based mainly on the results of animal studies.[1][33]

      Also, the average life expectancy in sub-saraha African (where most malaria deaths occur) is considerably lower than western nations - it makes risks from carcinogens, even if they did exist, a lesser importance. The WHO estimates that over 1,000 kids die of malaria in sub-sahara Africa ***every day***

      But this isn't what upsets me as much as how the bans came about - Carson's book ultimately produced more heat than light.

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    3. 8:38, meant to not too

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  8. (I should have expanded that the reason I think recognizing spouses with an honor on the $20 or other denomination bill is that some people would argue this is somehow endorsing a Tammy Wynette view of a woman's role in society or somesuch thing...)

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  9. Hillary acts like Tammy Wynette and doesn't have to. She'll get my vote when she divorces Billy boy.

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    1. Somehow I doubt that you would ever vote for her, no matter what she did.

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    2. Well Scribe, since I won't vote for a Repub. Pres, I guess I can't vote for either in the Presidential slot, presuming she gets the nom. Unless of course she gets a divorce, which is unlikely. Yes, then I'd be happy to vote for the enabler.

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    3. It amazes me that more feminists didn't get mad at Slick Willie. Guess he was held to a different standard. And I'm speaking as a female and a moderate Dem.

      Lady Anon

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  10. I agree that Hamilton is certainly worthy of being on currency, and that that's a pretty facile dismissal of Eleanor Roosevelt. Someone's "claim to fame" is not necessarily indicative of the extent of their contributions.

    "Mankiller" for the first woman to be awarded this honor? It's hard to believe that that's not the Onion's nomination.

    No love for Harriet Beecher Stowe, abolitionist and "the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war"? (Apocryphal quote or not...)

    Seems to me that while a Kardashian is a noteworthy suggestion, Jenny McCarthy best represents the "thinking" of a certain subset of modern Republicans. Well, and Democrats, for that matter, unfortunately. ; )

    And I agree with Paul -- "So Marilyn Monroe is out of the question?" is a hilarious title for these ruminations.

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  11. Yes, southerners loved to blame others for their wrongdoing.

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    1. Or they didn't like that Stowe didn't give the delusional southern version of things.

      The Chicago History Museum had a good presentation on her with a speaker, some years back.

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  12. How about a female inventor? Grace Hopper stands out as a pioneer in a field dominated by men.

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  13. even better/ Thomas Edison and please don't start the Tesla balonley

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  14. Too bad we can't use Mother Teresa or Madame Curie, since not American.

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    1. Why would you want that vile Albanian dwarf [as the great Christopher Hitchens dubbed her] & good, good friend of that thief Charlie Keating, to be honored in any way?

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  15. She gave up her life to do so much for India's poor and raise awareness. What a cold person you must be.

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  16. what made Hitchens so great then?

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  17. Margaret Sanger would be my choice. Her efforts freed women from the non-stop cycle of childbearing that often shortened their lives and restricted career choices. No other single person did more to advance women's interests and health in this country.

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    1. She was arrested for her troubles too or threatened with arrest. The ironic thing is today she'd probably run into almost as much anger with some groups as she did in the early turn of the last century. What's that old quote about the more things change...

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  18. @Wendy..and how do you think your Margaret Sanger $20 would be received by the American public?

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    1. I imagine Hobby Lobby would refuse that particular denomination.

      OK, it won't fly under conservative outrage, but most women in this country can appreciate the advantages gained by her diligence and support. Without it, we wouldn't be where we are today.

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    2. Disagree. Where are we today? Most women in this country are sitting on their hands while their rights to control their own bodies are falling away in big chunks.

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    3. I don't think so. We're up against white male dominated state legislatures and religion, so, yes, every two steps forward follows with one step back. We do have science and the courts to back us up. People like Wendy Davis of Texas who didn't sit on her hands, instead stood for 11 hours to block restrictive abortion legislation. The legislation passed anyway, but we still do what we can to keep our rights. Like with African Americans and gays, we know rights gained aren't guaranteed. There will always be push back.

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  19. Wasn't Margaret Sanger a proponent of negative eugenics, proposing a Population Congress in order to prevent a "harvest of imbecility"?
    Was Mother Jones on the list?

    Nikki D.

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    1. I just looked at the larger list. 100 names were cut to 60, then to 30. (They're all listed on the website Neil linked to. http://www.womenon20s.org/the_process ) Mother Jones was among the top 30 candidates, as was Harriet Beecher Stowe, but neither made the cut of 15 from which the 4 finalists mentioned by Neil in his post were selected.

      3 of the finalists were chosen by vote, apparently, but check out this clarification with regard to the fourth:

      "Because of strong public sentiment that people should have the choice of a Native American to replace Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller appears on the final round ballot."

      So, it was rigged for Mankiller in order to stick it to The Man! ; )

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    2. ridiculous, tired of pc history making Native Amer. some type of saint-they weren't from the Americas either but came from Asia over the strait.

      And they were unwilling to adapt or get educated, like the slaves would with time-and did cruel things to themselves and to settlers. I'm not saying the gov't always did the right things with them but they failed and I'm not going to worship them-runons used for speed or phone typing- they had great natural resources and didn't even know to dig up minerals, while they practiced superstitious ways, now the far left exhalts them- a bunch of drinkers who now want casino priveleges and they treated their women like crap too-now their local police give them only tap on wrist for wrongdoing-baloney, all should be in same court system, mankiller indeed, what Bull- or they obsess if some team uses their name, ridic. -at least the Euros could do more than just ford a river, I know the pc lefties here will attack but some of you will secretly agree in part

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    3. and their medicinal ways did not work, smoking all that peyote addled their brain

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  20. And no I'm not against Planned Parenthood at all. It's a wonderful organization.
    Nikki D.

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  21. Mr. S, most women today have to work ft, while raising kids, running errands, dealing with sick kids,even if they are married doing a lot, let alone if single. Sorry if they can't all afford a housekeeper like some women you might know can or they can't go drop everything to go protest somewhere or travel to capitals. We can write or call our legisilators but it's a bit harsh to say most women sitting on hands. How arrogant and presumptious of you.

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  22. or that mom's have to juggle activity schedules and play chauffeur

    this even can slow down careers at times, let alone them doing pol. committees

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  23. of course, some are working too hard, not cause must but to keep up with joneses, or spoiling the kids

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  24. NS/ Thought of you when watching Check Please on pbs. They visited this Rickshaw Indonesian rest. on Lincoln Ave in Chitown. The place was loaded with puppets. Thought you might like it there, if you haven't seen it already.

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  25. and let's stop the pc habit of minimizing all that the western world invented and accomplished

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  26. Burr was a crook, selling out his nation for land grabs promised by the Brits. He was a thorn in Jeff's side as one of his VP's.

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