On August 18, President Donald Trump pardoned suffragist Susan B. Anthony, who was arrested for voting illegally in 1872.
In a White House event, President Trump said, “Today, I’m honored to sign a proclamation celebrating August 18th, 2020, as the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment (which gave women the right to vote). In the summer of 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood before the first-ever women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, and declared that women should enjoy this fundamental civil right. What a job she did.”
“Seven decades later, the suffrage movement succeeded. On this day in 1920, the United States ratified the 19th Amendment. It was a monumental victory for equality, for justice, and a monumental victory for America.”
“(Anthony) was never pardoned. Did you know that? She was never pardoned,” President Trump said. “What took so long? And you know that she got a pardon for a lot of other women, and she didn’t put her name on the list. So, she was never pardoned…”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement, “Susan B. Anthony fought to expand the promise of human rights and dignity to all people. She and her compatriots provide us with the model of how to advocate for the voiceless and disenfranchised in our own time. It is her courageous example that inspired the formation of SBA List and continues to inspire our work today. We are deeply moved and grateful to President Trump for honoring the legacy of this great American hero and we pledge never to tire in carrying on her unfinished work.”
Surprisingly, this news hasn’t been well received by the political Left.
Kathy Hochul, New York’s lieutenant governor, wrote on Twitter, “As (the) highest ranking woman elected official in New York and on behalf of Susan B. Anthony’s legacy we demand Trump rescind his pardon. She was proud of her arrest to draw attention to the cause for women’s rights, and never paid her fine. Let her rest in peace.”
The president of pro-abortion group NARAL, Ilyse Hogue, wrote on Twitter, “This is ridiculous. Susan B. Anthony wore her conviction as a badge of honor, one in a long line of leaders who used civil disobedience towards social progress. The last thing she would want is the misogynist in chief pardoning her.”
But the most criticism towards Anthony is based around allegations that she was racist.
“It makes sense that Trump would pardon Susan B. Anthony, a white feminist who didn’t mind turning her backs on black folks,” black transgender Raquel Willis wrote on Twitter.
News organization NowThis, posted a video, originally produced in 2018, which argues against celebrating Anthony due to her supposed racism.
Hosted by NowThis producer Luria Freeman, the video begins by stating, “They have perpetuated idealized versions of Anthony and her white colleagues such as Carrie Chapman Catt and Elizabeth Cody Stanton. Evidence of their ruthless racial bias has been pushed to the shadows, enabling the erasure of their women of color counterparts who also fought tirelessly for the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony only appeared to care about Black people when the status quo was in her favor.”
Commentators also say that the pardon is entirely politically motivated, with an article in The New York Times stating, “President Trump said on Tuesday that he would pardon Susan B. Anthony, the women’s suffragist who was arrested after voting illegally in 1872 and fined $100, as he tried to appeal to female voters on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving them the right to vote.”
CNN columnist Jill Filipovic stated, “President Donald Trump is gunning for the women’s vote, and so to great fanfare, he announced his plans to pardon one very prominent woman: Susan B. Anthony, who died in 1906.”
Many also have issues with the fact that Anthony’s name is associated with pro-life groups. The New York Times highlighted this, stating, “She is also an increasingly divisive figure, adopted by anti-abortion forces and criticized for relegating Black suffragists to the sidelines.”
Pardoning Susan B. Anthony seems like an issue that nearly all Americans should be able to get behind, but in these times of heightened political divisiveness, it shouldn’t be surprising that something as innocuous as a pardoning of an activist who died more than a century ago could cause such controversy.
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