Thursday, 17 September 2015

51st State Blues.

I gather Jeb Bush wants Margaret Thatcher to be the first woman whose picture appears on a $10 bill. That doesn’t entirely surprise me, coming as it does from one of the Bush clan. It was, after all, Mrs Thatcher who tagged Britain onto American coat tails until the joke over here was that we now had the honour of being the 51st state. The fervent wish of Bush #3 is being treated humorously in Britain, just as everything connected with the Bushes generally is, but maybe there’s a serious point to be made.

I can see why Mrs Thatcher should be regarded as an American hero in some quarters, since she was a great supporter of the old American maxim ‘It don’t count ’less it sells.’ During her time in office the term ‘greed is good’ became as prevalent in the City as I gather it had long been on Wall Street. She gave away the wealth creative function of industry to the Far East so that we could import goods cheaper than we could make them and the shopping mall could become the new centre of economic reality, conveniently ignoring the fact that a retail-based economy is not only more illusory but also far more fragile. (Correct me if I’m wrong, Americans, but I understand that you did the same thing some time earlier. For reference I have only Dylan’s Sundown on the Union and the sad fate of Detroit as evidence.) Mrs T even began the slow process of dismantling that great British monument to equality and common sense, the NHS. The legacy of the Thatcher/Blair years continues to roll on slowly, which must give great comfort to American Republicans who see the concept of a national health service as history’s Great Mistake.

So yes, it doesn’t surprise me that Jeb should want Mrs Thatcher to be commemorated on a symbol of American pecuniary principle. It seems entirely appropriate that the Mother of the 51st State should be so honoured.

And who, I might ask, would I choose to be the first woman on a $10 bill? Rosa Parks, probably. That’s one of many reasons why the Bushes of this world are rich, powerful and important, while people like me are just little nobodies.


Madeline said...

My top choices:

Harriet Tubman
Susan B. Anthony
Dorothea Dix
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Jane Addams
Eleanor Roosevelt
Sojourner Truth

JJ Beazley said...

You shame me into acknowledging that I had no right to offer my own nomination since my knowledge of great American women could be written on the rim of a dollar coin with room to spare. I stand corrected (though I doubt that was your intention) and my education has progressed slightly, courtesy of several visits to Wiki. Of the women on your list, my gut reaction is to pick out Harriet Tubman for her inspirational enterprise and raw courage.

Madeline said...

Harriet Tubman is definitely a standout. To be honest, my knowledge of great American women isn't that extensive either; I should know many more than I do.

One fact I didn't learn until recently was that Rosa Parks had a forerunner in the form of Claudette Colvin, who was the first person to be arrested for sitting in the "white section" of the bus in Alabama. The NAACP opted to use Rosa Parks as a symbol of their movement because they thought the public would sympathize more with Parks than with Colvin, who was an unwed teenage mother and a more "militant" activist (in her own words). So nine months after Colvin was arrested, Rosa Parks recreated Colvin's protest.

This is not to detract from Rosa Parks's work, but I think it's a fascinating story and shows a lot about who gets ensconced as an American hero and why.

JJ Beazley said...

I remember reading that there had been a predecessor to Rosa Parks and wondered why her own reward was oblivion. Now I know why. I suppose it's sometimes necessary to be pragmatic when you're trying to open closed minds.

Sorry for the delay, by the way - been indisposed, in a manner of speaking.

Madeline said...

Yeah, I can understand the NAACP's reasoning. It's good she's begun to get some recognition though.

Sorry to hear you've been indisposed. I hope that your return means that things have improved.

JJ Beazley said...

Ah, well, there's indisposed and 'indisposed.' Things generally keep on getting worse, but I haven't drowned yet.

I liked the story of the cat that didn't like being followed, and I'll take a listen to some of the music I've missed shortly.