Chris Powell: Stop honoring the genocidal Andrew Jackson

  Manchester, Conn.

Congratulations to Connecticut's Democratic Party for landing Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as keynote speaker for the party's annual Jefferson-Jackson-Bailey fundraising dinner in June. Unlike the party's presumptive next presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, Warren at least poses as the scourge of Wall Street, though conveniently for Wall Street she also opposes auditing its great enabler, the Federal Reserve.

But another big irony in Warren's appearance should be addressed too. That is, many years ago, possibly to obtain ethnic hiring preferences, Warren claimed Cherokee Indian ancestry, and the “Jackson” of the dinner is President Andrew Jackson, perpetrator of a disgrace of the country's history, the genocide of the Cherokee Indians, the expropriation of their land in the southeastern part of the country, though they were living at peace with their neighbors, and their deadly forced march to wastelands beyond the Mississippi River.

In part because of that disgrace, there is a growing movement to replace Jackson's portrait on the 20-dollar bill with the portrait of a woman, women being unrepresented on U.S. paper currency. The best candidate seems to be Eleanor Roosevelt, the great advocate of human rights, politically incorrect in her time but vindicated by history.

So why keep honoring Jackson at the Connecticut Democratic Party's biggest event? Eleanor Roosevelt's husband, President Franklin Roosevelt, the greatest Democratic president, did far more for the country than Jackson did and could ably replace him as a dinner honoree. (While Roosevelt's internment of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent during World War II was a disgrace too, at least nobody died from it and it was a consequence of war.)

Like the Democratic Party's subservience to Wall Street, Andrew Jackson has become just a bad habit. It would be good if Warren could persuade the party to dump both. At least dumping Jackson won't cost the party any campaign contributions.


As he seems about to be sent to prison a second time for political corruption, former Gov. John G. Rowland is becoming an ever-easier target for any grievance involving his 9½ years in office, and now the state employee unions are claiming a great if bitter triumph over him in the settlement of their federal lawsuit challenging what turned out to be Rowland's temporary layoff of 2,500 union members amid state budget difficulties in 2003.

The unions call Rowland's action a great crime. But the lawsuit got to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, where the unions won, only because the state had prevailed at the federal district court level, so it's not as if the state had no case. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court might have gone either way, and the unions figured, as did Gov. Dannel  Malloy and Atty. Gen. George Jepsen, that the parties would do best to settle rather than go for broke.

While the nominal value of the settlement is said to be $100 million, the attorney general says it has been structured so that most of the money will be paid to the state employees over many years as vacation and personal days off and thus not require special appropriations.

The unions say the settlement's structure demonstrates their generosity amid state government's latest budget difficulties under an infinitely friendlier governor. But the structure seems more like an admission that state employees are not much missed when they don't show up for work, as they didn't show up a few weeks ago on Good Friday, one of their already innumerable paid holidays, which closely followed Martin Luther King Day in January and Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's Birthday in February.

If, as the unions' posturing suggests, state employees spent those days mostly steaming about their oppression, they'll be able to do it again in October on Columbus Day, when, for some reason, Connecticut will honor the destroyer of the Indians of the Caribbean.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, based in Manchester, Conn.