Nina Otero-Warren. Anna May Wong. Edith Kanaka‘ole. Jovita Idar. Zitkala-Ša. Dr. Pauli Murray. Celia Cruz.
Ask any American to identify these women—Murray was “perceived” as a woman—and unless that person majored in women’s studies, odds are high that few will recognize these names.
Yet these are seven of the 15 names featured now on the U.S. quarter, part of the U.S. Mint’s “four-year program that celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by women of the United States.” The Mint has already issued coins for 2022 and 2023, announced the women who will appear on the quarter for 2024, and will soon reveal the final five women to be featured on the 2025 quarters, for a total of 20 subjects over the four years.
The Mint lists these qualifying factors for their choices of women:
The American Women Quarters may feature contributions from a variety of fields, including, but not limited to, suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts. The women honored will be from ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse backgrounds.
Except for those Americans completely encamped in the progressive tent, these selections should raise objections from ordinary Americans for the following reasons.
Creating division. The United States already has Women’s History Month every March. Do we really need four years of coins featuring women, most of them obscure historical figures? Why not four years of American inventors? American writers? Aviators? Military heroes? Lists such as these would unite rather than once again divide us as a people.
Adding to racial tension. We can surmise some of the candidates were chosen in part for their skin color, because the site itself notes that physical fact. Moreover, of the 15 featured women so far, three are white. Given the demographics of the population of the United States from its inception until now, that small number will strike some as prejudice. Sixty years ago this past August, Martin Luther King spoke of a dream, “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” The Mint’s emphasis on the ethnic and racial backgrounds of some of its subjects, like so many other things today, reveals that King’s dream remains just that—a dream.
Ignoring history. None of the women selected lived in the 18th century. Only one, Civil War surgeon Mary Walker, made her mark on history in the 19th century. All the rest belong to the 20th century.
Enforcing a political and cultural slant. Every one of these 15 woman is a darling of the left. They embraced the progressive politics of their day and pass muster in today’s Woke culture. Native-American Kateri Tekakwitha is an American saint, along with educator Elizabeth Ann Seton and social worker Mother Cabrini, yet it is the transgender Pauli Murray, “the first Black person perceived as a woman in the U.S. to become an Episcopalian priest,” who appears on the quarter.
Missing from these coins are American women like Abigail Adams, Amelia Earhart, and Harriet Tubman. Missing as well are libertarians like Isabel Patterson and Rose Wilder Lane, writers of fiction and poetry like Willa Cather, Louisa May Alcott, Edith Wharton, Zora Hurston, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Emily Dickinson, and of course, conservatives like Margaret Chase Smith and Clare Booth Luce.
Charity demands that we at least wonder whether one intention of those who approved these women on the coins was to educate the American public. Maybe the project’s designers believed that those who examined these quarters would then go their computers and phones, as I did, to discover the identity and deeds of some of these women. Perhaps, but given the ignorance of so many of our citizens regarding their history, particularly our young people, common sense would have dictated the inclusion of more standard historical personages like Dolly Madison or Jane Addams.
Meanwhile, the obverse of these new quarters has also changed. The Mint has replaced the 1932 John Flanagan design of George Washington with one devised at that same time by Laura Gardin Fraser. In an article on the Mint’s website, “The Woman Behind the Long-Awaited Obverse Quarter Design,” we find no mention of Fraser’s most remarkable work, the double-equestrian statue, the first of its kind in the United States, of Confederate generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee in Baltimore, Maryland. Like so many other Confederate monuments, that statue was been removed and remains in storage, though some activists have called for its destruction.
So why this oversight of Fraser’s Confederate statue? An inconvenient fact?
The inflation of the last three years has eroded the value of the dollar. The prejudices behind the Mint’s American Women Quarters seem designed to do the same to our past.
Image credit: Pixabay2 comments