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“I Have Cherokee Friends!” and Other Points in Jim Webb’s Defense of Andrew Jackson

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Jim Webb is a great Democrat. If it is the racist southern wing of the Democratic Party in 1957. He goes full Schlesinger in his outraged defense of Old Hickory.

One would think we could celebrate the recognition that Harriet Tubman will be given on future $20 bills without demeaning former president Andrew Jackson as a “monster,” as a recent Huffington Post headline did. And summarizing his legendary tenure as being “known primarily for a brutal genocidal campaign against native Americans,” as reported in The Post, offers 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. Meanwhile, race relations are at their worst point in decades.

Far too many of our most important discussions are being debated emotionally, without full regard for historical facts. The myth of universal white privilege and universal disadvantage among racial minorities has become a mantra, even though white and minority cultures alike vary greatly in their ethnic and geographic origins, in their experiences in the United States and in their educational and financial well-being.

Way to blow off racial disparities Jim. Yeah, race relations are at a low point. I wonder why. Maybe it’s because crazy white people like you are outraged that black people are demanding actual equality. “If only we’d stop talking about our racist past, race relations would improve” is a sort of argument, I guess.

Jackson became the very face of the New America, focusing on intense patriotism and the dignity of the common man.

On the battlefield he was unbeatable, not only in the Indian Wars, which were brutally fought with heavy casualties on both sides, but also in his classic defense of New Orleans during the War of 1812. His defense of the city (in which he welcomed free blacks as soldiers in his army) dealt the British army its most lopsided defeat until the fall of Singapore in 1942.

Gee, let’s not overstate the Battle of New Orleans here! And that’s nice that Jackson allowed free blacks to fight him. He totally learned from that and then freed his slaves at the Hermitage…This is the only time that black people come up in Jim Webb’s op-ed.

As president, Jackson ordered the removal of Indian tribes east of the Mississippi to lands west of the river. This approach, supported by a string of presidents, including Jefferson and John Quincy Adams, was a disaster, resulting in the Trail of Tears where thousands died. But was its motivation genocidal? Robert Remini, Jackson’s most prominent biographer, wrote that his intent was 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.

Oh holy shit. The Remini discussion of the adoption! I read this book at least 15 years ago and I still remember how much Remini focuses on that adoption to show that Jackson didn’t actually hate Indians. And I’ll bet Jim Webb has some Cherokee friends so he totally isn’t racist! Actually Jim, that argument doesn’t hold water at all. Yes, one can be genocidal and adopt a pet from the exterminated race. That’s a pathetic, awful argument.

The rest is just talking about how much we should love Jackson because he was so tough and manly. Which I guess does appeal to Jim Webb. What it should have to do with us in 2016 is unclear. This is classic Webb. Downplay genocide, not even discuss slavery, totally avoid Jackson’s utterly disastrous economic policies, play up the violence and manliness.

In conclusion, I am amazed that Jim Webb is not the Democratic Party presidential nominee in 2016.

And why the hell not. This song is dumb but is actually less dumb than Jim Webb’s defense.

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