Opinion by Jason Stanford
July 5, 2021
photo above: The Alamo in San Antonio, seen in 2013. (Eric Gay/AP)
WN: This is parable of course as well about American Exceptionalism ever since Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in the 1830s of the United States as “exceptional” . . .1
Grand irony: those most railing against “political correctness” are too often engulfed by it! And they ever rewrite history to defend it! Maybe their own pettiness and their likewise swallowing THE BIG LIE and ALL LIES TRUMP will also someday by perhaps wishful alchemy be transposed into HEROIC BIG TRUTH for all the world to see . . .
But I wouldn’t bet on it. Authentic historical narrative is rarely established by consummate liars or wish-upon-a-star fiat. Though I grant that generally, to the victors and the duped belongs the first historical narrative.
Please see too, by Philip KennicottJuly 3, 2021: Maybe it’s time to admit that the Statue of Liberty has never quite measured up. We read:
That fragility is seen not just in direct attacks such as the coordinated terrorist strikes in Paris in 2015, and the 9/11 assault on New York, but the continuing efforts by populists and demagogues in both countries to leverage issues of race and immigration against liberal democracies. Indeed, if the statue has had any kind of stable meaning over its lifetime, it is not as a symbol of liberty, but as a symbol of the misuse of liberty — as a hollow promise, unequally distributed and limited in its application to certain groups. (Emphasis added)
Jason Stanford is the Austin-based writer of the Substack newsletter the Experiment and the co-author, with Bryan Burrough and Chris Tomlinson, of “Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth.”With more than 300 RSVPs, the event hosted by the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin was shaping up to be the highlight of our virtual book tour for “Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth.” But about four hours before showtime last Thursday, my co-authors, Bryan Burrough and Chris Tomlinson, and I received an email from our publisher. The Bullock had backed out, citing “increased pressure on social media.” Apparently, the state history museum was no place to discuss state history.
It’s always been broadly accepted that the Alamo is the heart of the Texas creation myth, the heart of the whole idea of Texas exceptionalism — which is the idea that we were somehow a cut above the Rhode Islands and the Delawares of the world . . .
This isn’t how things are supposed to work, even in Texas, but the truth turned out to be even worse. The state history museum wasn’t bowing to social media pressure but to political pressure from the state’s Republican lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, who claimed credit for the kill the next day.
“As a member of the Preservation Board, I told staff to cancel this event as soon as I found out about it,” tweeted Patrick, adding, “This fact-free rewriting of TX history has no place @BullockMuseum.”
Minor umbrage compels me to defend the book as well as the museum, which currently is hosting a Jim Crow exhibition. As The Post noted in its review of our book, we “challenge the traditional view” of the Alamo saga, one popularized by Disney and John Wayne and cemented by politicians in the Texas school curriculum.
The Heroic Anglo Narrative is that in 1836, about 200 Texians (as White settlers were known, to distinguish them from Tejanos) fought a doomed battle at a Spanish mission in San Antonio against thousands of Mexican troops, buying Gen. Sam Houston enough time to defeat tyranny in the form of Mexican ruler Santa Anna and win freedom for Texas. The myth leaves much out, most notably that Texians opposed Mexican laws that would free the enslaved workers they needed to farm cotton.
Politicians barricading the figurative doors of the Alamo in defense of the myth are nothing new. In 2018, a panel reviewing the state history curriculum suggested not requiring seventh-graders to learn that those who died at the Alamo were “heroic.” Republican state political leaders, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Land Commissioner George P. Bush — the nephew and grandson of presidents and the state officeholder with oversight of the historic site — reacted as if the Alamo were once again besieged.
“Stop political correctness in our schools,” tweeted the state’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott. “Of course Texas schoolchildren should be taught that Alamo defenders were ‘Heroic’!”
Please click on: Heroic Political CorrectnessFootnotes
- In my 2015 novel, Chrysalis Crucible, one reads:
As in the Alamo story, [Protagonist] Andy thought, at times Fiona demonstrated a stubborn single-mindedness unworthy of all but the real hero. Andy had never told her that he had done a major historiography project on the Alamo in second-year History under the tutelage of a graduate student Texan draft dodger. He was against American foreign policy and anti-Vietnam War to the core. In the Alamo myth, there was one man who refused to cross the line to “defend” to the death the Alamo. In Andy’s guided research project, this “traitor” to Texan orthodoxy in fact gave the lie to the “righteousness” of the rampant rapacity and butchery of those pre-state Texan “authorities,” brutal terrorists all toward the Mexicans and Indians, in wresting their land from them. Andy first heard from him the term “Identity Christians” with reference to those convinced of white American Manifest Destiny supremacy over every inch of “America.” The “intrepid Texas Rangers,” Andy discovered were anything but. They were rather originally a group of thugs and thieves who slaughtered and extorted at will, not unlike other westward advancing Americans or the Spanish Conquistadores to the south.
Northey, Wayne. Chrysalis Crucible (p. 300). Fresh Wind Press. Kindle Edition.[↩]