We’re often told that words matter, and indeed they do. The words we use, and the meaning poured into them, help shape and reinforce who we are as individuals and as a people. However, there is currently an effort in the Texas State Board of Education to strip the curriculum of much of the affirming language used to describe the battle of the Alamo and, in doing so, attempt to re-shape what it means to be a Texan.
Over nearly two centuries, traditional Texans found great value and a sense of identity in the 1836 siege. And while most people (especially outside of Texas) have little to no clue about the historical importance of the Alamo, what happened over those 13 days laid the foundation for Texas liberty and the re-shaping of the map. However, the portrayal of this pivotal moment in Texas history has been fraught with controversy. If you were to ask many on the left who the defenders of the Alamo were, they might reply that they were a bunch of morally-benighted reprobates who simply thrived on rebellion and hell-raising. However, if you were to ask someone such as myself, I would point out that their personal demons are irrelevant. The important thing is the accomplishment of these admittedly imperfect people: they had the cojones to face a professional, battle-tested military knowing their own demise was likely. Yet, for the cause of the Republic and to put an end to Santa Anna’s dictatorship over Texas, this was not a sacrifice they shrank from. Whatever else you may think of them, the Alamo defenders showed their true mettle on a March day over 180 years ago. I often wonder whether I could be so brave, stubborn, or however else you choose to characterize their actions.
Today, the battle over the Alamo narrative continues. This time, a Texas school curriculum advisory panel is urging the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) to drop the word “heroic” from the description of the Alamo defenders and remove Col. Travis’ famed letter from the Texas history curriculum. And while the average person may be inclined to say, “What difference does it make?” or “why do they make a big deal over little things like that?”, it matters because the Alamo is the foundation for Texas identity and Texas values. For Texas to remain Texas, we must be able to draw on a common story that speaks to the best ideals of our character; the Alamo serves that purpose. Without the Alamo and Texas values, some other values will fill the void, and it’s doubtful that such values will be the sort that Texans want or ones that serve to unite us.
A few days ago I was listening to the “Who Killed the Local News” podcast by “Crazy/Genius” on Stitcher. On it, Derek Thompson argued that as the internet grew, people increasingly began getting their news from online sources. The result has been less local engagement in the community. People have less clue on what is happening in their local government and schools, than before. More municipal governments and public schools are becoming more corrupt as Texans become less engaged. Apart from watchful eyes, some area schools are using the opportunity to shift from Texas values to a more globalist and progressive perspective, more so in the larger urban centers than the rural areas. This is why you might notice a stark difference in the attitude and behavior of students who attend school in Dallas County (for example) as opposed to students of Lamar County. The attempt to sanitize the Alamo story by the SBOE advisory panel is one measure to force this mindset onto the whole state.
Sci-fi author Philip K. Dick once observed:
‘The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use them.’
The Alamo narrative of independence and liberty is clearly a threat to the efforts of some to control us, a threat to the values they would have supplant Texas values. If you think it’s important that the children of Texas not be robbed of their heritage by globalists and revisionists, you need to let them know! Write your representative. Call the SBOE. Send them an email. Attend their meetings. Let them know that you will not allow them to whittle away Texas, bit by bit. If we do nothing, letting the metropoles of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin have their way, then the Alamo will become nothing more than just another former mission with no significance, mere historical trivia no more important to future generation than Hadrian’s Wall. Don’t let the SBOE or our children forget the Alamo.