Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Racial Segregation: Another Reason to Remove Franklin Roosevelt’s Portrait from the Dime

           Last month, I posted about the controversial plan by the Obama Administration to remove the portrait of Alexander Hamilton from the $10 United States Federal Reserve Note and the ongoing movement to remove Andrew Jackson’s image from the $20 bill. 

In my post, The Obama Administration’s Plan to Replace Alexander Hamilton’s Portrait on the $10 bill is Divisive and Patronizing, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-obama-administrations-plan-to.html, I mentioned Jackson’s mistreatment of certain Native Americans and ownership of slaves as the reasons that some people, especially liberals, object to his portrait on the $20 bill.  I wrote that by that reasoning, Franklin Roosevelt’s portrait should be removed from the Dime because, as President, the Democrat interred and otherwise violated the civil rights of many American citizens and loyal permanent residents, without trial, on the sole basis of national origin.   

The current controversy over the Confederate Battle Flag reminds me of an additional reason to remove Roosevelt’s image from the Dime: Commander in Chief Roosevelt, even during the Second World War, a time of great peril that necessitated unity among Americans, maintained the racial segregation of the U.S. military.  The Continental Army under George Washington during the American Revolution had been racially integrated, but while the Confederate Army during the Civil War was racially integrated, the Union Army was not.  The U.S. military remained racially segregated during the Spanish-American War and the First World War.  It was not until after the Second World War, under President Harry Truman, that the American military was racially integrated. 

Surely, if at least certain people have a new right not to be offended and thus to ban types of expressions by the government or public officials they deem offensive, even if the reasons they take offense are mistaken, as if they may insist that their interpretation of a word, symbol or image of a person means only what they think it means instead of its original intent, and if the Confederate Battle Flag is to be banned because it offends those who associate it with racism and racial segregation, then Roosevelt’s image would be even more offensive because it ought to remind everyone of racial segregation in the military that even the Confederates did not commit.  Of course, most liberals are probably not aware of this fact, but even if they were, their usual selective indignation might cause them to excuse Roosevelt for his overall favored policies, in contrast to how they regard Jackson, the Founding Fathers, Christopher Columbus, and any other great figure in Western history with whom they do not totally agree.  Perhaps liberals might even consider not judging historical figures apart from the standards of the times in which they lived and instead give these figures credit for the overall progress they achieved, in contrast to liberals’ current iconoclasm.  It must be noted, however, that Roosevelt did not make significant progress on advancing the equal treatment of blacks, in contrast to the Founders and others who are now coming under attack by the liberal iconoclasts.  Roosevelt’s interments based upon national origin would be enough for any liberal to object to honoring him publicly if he were anything less than a liberal hero, but his racial segregation ought to force them to join with conservatives in opposing such an honor for one who violated civil rights and equality.  Of course, consistency is hardly the hallmark of liberalism. 

            As I have noted in several posts, American coins or currency should not feature images of people, except perhaps for the major Founding Fathers, as they should be unifying, not divisive, which is why the Founders established the practice on the first coins to feature only the allegorical female human figure of Liberty and other symbols, instead of self-promoting portraits of current leaders or of any other human.  Featuring images of humans creates controversy and also makes it difficult to maintain the custom of changing coin or currency designs periodically, lest the admirers of the person whose image is proposed to be replaced be offended.  All too often, as in the case of the Democratic Congress only a few months after Roosevelt’s death in 1945, images are authorized to be placed on coins or currency out of emotions and partisanship, long before presidential documents are publicized, including those classified as “top secret,” to allow adequate historical research and well before sufficient historical precedent can allow for proper consideration and judgment about the individual to be honored. 

           If Roosevelt’s image is not replaced with that of Liberty or some appropriate symbol, then I suggest it be replaced with a portrait of James Madison, the Father of the Constitution that Roosevelt violated.

No comments: