There are few people in Texas, nor doubtless in the world, that have not heard the call of “Remember the Alamo!” This phrase, first uttered by General Sam Houston, has over the decades of popular repetition grown from its original purpose to motivate the Texian troops at the battle of San Jacinto to something much larger. Uttering those words now is a call to honor our common heritage as Texans, to reflect on the great difficulties we’ve overcome, and hearkens us to emulate the great courage and deeds such as defined the fallen heroes who gave their lives for their country at that besieged fortification.
However, instead remembering the the Alamo as is; a national symbol of noble sacrifice, bravery in the face of government tyranny, and confirmation that even seemingly lost causes are worth fighting for, there are those that would rather change this powerful story into something else, and have us remember the Alamo… differently!
The Texas Observer Perspective
Right thinking Texans have good reason to recognize the left-wing media as often lunacy masquerading as critical thought. Much of what these supposed periodical luminaries produce is so ridiculous, one would swear they were reading satire. And where the topic is Western Culture and history, their take is almost always exceedingly negative. In fact, because of the left wing propagandizing of many publications, I have finally found a use for the poop emoji.
The Texas Observer is one such blight on Texas media culture, who has jumped onto the racial-hysteria bandwagon, embracing the idea that Texas history is defined by racism. Subscribing to this perspective, writer Daniel Peña invites you to “Remember the Alamo (Differently)” than how it has been traditionally presented. How differently? In short, Mr. Peña would have us remember the Alamo, not as the heroic resistance against a tyrant so bad that multiple Mexican states (not just Texas) had been in revolt against his violation of the rights of all Mexican citizens, but rather as war of Anglo xenophobia against Mexicans waged by ne’er-do-wells Americans, themselves the real enemy of the Mexican Constitution of 1824 and not the dictator that suspended it. In his denouncing of the Alamo, and the position it occupies in the heart of Texans, he would have his readers relegate it to the level of a Confederate memorial: an object that should be scorned, since we aren’t going to do away with it.
As for first impressions, I can say no better than my own daughter. Usually pretty mellow, when she read the article in the Texas Observer she became…. angered. “This is a new level of stupidity in Texas… Stop making problems where there aren’t any. Only a true snowflake could still make himself out to be victimized in a battle that he won!”
It is true that the Texas war of independence was complex, with people on both sides having varied motivations for picking their sides in the struggle. Since there are no perfect humans, it is impossible that our Texian founding fathers were an exception to that. Racial problems existed back then as they do today. However, to present the Alamo or the revolution as an icon of “some of the darkest ideologies that have shaped our American fabric: anti-federalism as linked to white terrorism, white supremacy, and the destruction of brown bodies at all costs,” is so stupidly simplistic as to rival the worst melodramatic jingoism. It ignores many facts, and should be deeply insulting to all Texans!
In libeling the Texians and their struggle as merely their falling-out with the 1824 Constitution, Mr. Peña glosses over the fact that until the Alamo, Texians were divided on secession, with a sizeable amount merely wanting their rights restored as Mexican citizens. This group even included Steve Austin, for a fair stretch. It wasn’t something as simplistic as whites wanting to steal land that Mexico had rightfully taken from Spain. No. Many colonists had lived productively as Mexican citizens and wanted to go back to the freedoms they enjoyed under the 1824 Tri-Color. The massacres at the Alamo and Goliad made it abundantly clear, there was no going back. If they wanted to avoid expulsion or death, they would have to fight.
Additionally, in Peña’s zeal to find the Texians uniquely culpable of racism, he skipped over the Mexican government’s xenophobia against Anglos. Mexico City was more than fine with using American settlers as a shield against raids from Comancheria, but their great success on the Mexican frontier of Texas (more than anything else) caused them to be jealous and fearful of the settlers, and their skin-color became a visible reminder that, while these Anglos were Mexican citizens, they were the other. This anti-immigrant sentiment (for both legal and illegal immigration) was the impetus for the slow repeal of the colonist’s rights that culminated in the tyranny of Santa Anna. And while there were inappropriate racial attitudes among the Texians (especially when looked at from the safety of the modern age and its social progress), it’s important to realize these attitudes in context. It was the 19th century, not the 21st, and to expect them to act as modern social justice warriors without having the hard-learned lessons of today is ridiculous. Also, it’s disingenuous to omit that those attitudes had their analogue south of the border. After all, prejudice is a human failing, not an Anglo one.
Additionally, Mr. Peña’s racial, reductive way of looking at the Alamo isn’t just insulting, it’s larceny. By insisting that the Texas revolution was a white war on “brown bodies,” he robs modern-day Tejanos of their great and noble heritage in Texas. Our streets and towns, even today, are named in honor of our bold Tejano heroes and founding fathers. Men like Juan Seguin, José Antonio Navarro, José Francisco Ruiz, made Texas possible. And Yucatan born Lorenzo de Zavala, referred to as “Mexico’s rebellious enemy,” was so well esteemed, he became the first vice president of the Republic of Texas. Not even the United States can yet boast of a Hispanic occupying such an august office!
As for the Alamo, the Houston Institute for Culture says, “The 189 men who died at the Alamo hailed from many parts of the globe. They represented a truly multi-racial, multi-ethnic force, all gathered together in a common cause.” The names of the Tejanos among the honored dead are Juan Abamillo, Juan Antonio Badillo, Carlos Espalier, Gregorio Esparza, Antonio Fuentes, José Maria Guerrero, José Toribio Losoya, and Andrés Nava. Why would Peña omit from the story of Texas these brave men, from the ethnic group with which he identifies no less? Sadly, he does so to cause racial strife, propaganda to aid his preferred political ends.
The Real Crime
Political advocates like Mr. Peña have a vested interest in propagating the indomitable federal state: the wise big government saving us infantile peasants from the freedom to make bad choices. This is really the point of his article, and the rest of this just smoke-in-mirrors. When people have the power to make decisions for their own lives, then they might make decisions different than the progressive ones Peña and his allies think they should; that can’t be tolerated. It is because of this, he was so forceful in decrying “anti-federalism,” linking it with “white supremacy.” To have non-whites instinctively believe that eschewing the unconstitutional control that the federal government has over our lives is akin to being a Nazi, that is a powerful tool to keep people apart and insure the supremacy of the uber-state. The thought-crime of racial prejudice is not the crime that Mr. Peña is really concerned with. The real crime is believing that government should be limited, existing primarily to protect the freedom of the people from which it derives its just authority.
Remember the Alamo as is
No person knowledgeable of Texas history will deny the human frailties of the Alamo defenders; there were no saints among them. Some were debtors fleeing prosecution. Some had failed family lives and sordid affairs. Some had slaves. Others were gamblers, drinkers, and scoundrels. And yes, some harbored racial animosity. However, to obsess on these negatives to the exclusion of all else is to miss the point. What matters most is that when they were called to fight and die for a just cause, when they might have saved themselves, these imperfect people from multiple races answered the call, standing shoulder to shoulder with their Texian brothers, to the bitter end. Their sacrifice hastened our leaders to action, and ultimately served as the rallying call that led our nation to freedom.
Acts of heroism and great deeds are remembered for what they are, and ought not be defined by the foibles of the imperfect men who saw them through. So, when you remember the Alamo; remember it fondly for what it was: the Texan Thermopylae, a necessary sacrifice that, if not made, Liberty likely wouldn’t have been victorious. In the Alamo, every Texan of every color has a right to be proud. This is why we remember the Alamo as is, because without it, the world wouldn’t have Texas. And that is no small thing.
Co-author: Jesse Newberry