Hundreds of white women on they Susan B. Anthony today — history be damned.
We knew it would happen. From the moment the Democratic Party officially nominated Hillary Clinton to their party ticket, making her the first woman to receive this honor on a major corporate party ticket, white women have been waxing poetic about its feminist past and giddily paying homage to arguably one of its single greatest feminist sheroes, Susan B. Anthony.
Now, on this Election Day, in Rochester, some are heading to the cemetery after leaving the voting booth to lay their “I Voted” stickers and flowers on the headstone of their champion. And, I do mean their champion.
In the mid 19th century, Anthony had been involved in the woman’s suffragist movement for years, side-by-side with her friend and activist partner Elizabeth Cady Stanton, before dying in the city of Rochester — more than a decade before America would ratify the 19th Amendment. The city’s current mayor, Lovely Warren, is proud that locals are using this moment to remember the past.
“Visiting Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite has become an Election Day rite of passage for many citizens,” Warren explained the SF Gate. “With this year’s historically significant election, it seems right to extend that opportunity until the polls close.”
Too bad that “opportunity” — honoring the past — comes at the price of some serious historical revision.
It’s certainly true that Anthony was jailed for illegally casting a vote in 1872. Her only crime was being a white woman. It’s also true that she opposed slavery. What this nostalgic and very flattering account deliberately forget are the racist lengths Anthony would stoop to in her pursuit of rights and privileges for white women.
In a manner that anticipated the white supremacist strategizing of her contemporary successor, who supported locking up beastly, superpredatory black juveniles to protect civil society, Anthony was so committed to the suffragist cause — always at the expense and on the backs of other marginalized groups — that she knowingly dog-whistled passage of the 15th Amendment — a piece of legislation that granted black men the right to vote.
Anthony is also infamously known for making the following remarks:
“I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman.”
Yes, black women, too, are included in that category she knew to be “the Negro.”
“What words can express her [the white woman’s] humiliation when, at the close of this long conflict, the government which she had served so faithfully held her unworthy of a voice in its councils, while it recognized as the political superiors of all the noble women of the nation the negro men just emerged from slavery, and not only totally illiterate, but also densely ignorant of every public question.”
Yet, hundreds of Clinton supporters would prefer to forget about this despicable aspect of Anthony’s legacy to ensure their ability to bask in the present hour and ease their conscience. They on they Susan B. Anthony today and nothing and no one will interfere with all feels swirling inside them — historical truth be damned.
Luckily, the real history has a way of parading back whenever the lies and deceit get out of line and leave folks out. For an example of this, see here.