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Culture

Jim Webb: We Can Honor Both Tubman and Andy Jackson

Former presidential candidate and U.S. senator Jim Webb just proved his often admirable views are an antique in the modern Democratic party. In a Washington Post op-ed he called for celebrating the recognition Harriet Tubman will receive on the new $20 bill without trashing the reputation of former president Andrew Jackson as a “monster.” The man who fought political elites, vetoed a national bank, and stared down Southern states seeking to invalidate federal laws is now “known primarily for a brutal genocidal campaign against native Americans,.” Webb, the author of the popular book Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, says this is “an indication of how far political correctness has invaded our educational system and skewed our national consciousness.​”

“This dismissive characterization of one of our great presidents is not occurring in a vacuum. Any white person whose ancestral relations trace to the American South now risks being characterized as having roots based on bigotry and undeserved privilege,” Webb writes. “Meanwhile, race relations are at their worst point in decades.”

Webb acknowledges that Jackson’s removal of Native American tribes to the Oklahoma Territory was “a disaster,” but notes it was also supported by a “string of presidents.” Robert Remini, Jackson’s most prominent biographer, wrote that Jackson wanted to end the increasingly bloody Indian Wars and to protect the Indians from certain annihilation at the hands of an ever-expanding frontier population. “Indeed, it would be difficult to call someone genocidal when years before, after one bloody fight, he brought an orphaned Native American baby from the battlefield to his home in Tennessee and raised him as his son,” Webb concluded.

Webb concludes by noting that Mark Twain once commented that “to arrive at a just estimate of a renowned man’s character one must judge it by the standards of his time, not ours.” That approach, sadly, is the opposite of today’s politically correct wholesale assassination of America’s past leaders.

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