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Remember the Alamo
By Rod D. Martin
These are the words of William B. Travis, who commanded the Alamo when Texas rebelled against Mexico's despot, Santa Anna.
March 6 was the 168th anniversary of the Alamo's fall, which cost Travis his life, along with almost 180 others who went down fighting on freedom's behalf.
That, at least, is how America once viewed the Texas Revolution, which ultimately led to Texas winning its independence from Mexico.
In recent decades, this explanation has been challenged by another revolution. Starting in the late 1960s, a "counterculture" emerged from the fever swamps of the hard Left and began its long march through our civilization, leaving nothing untouched.
Not even the Alamo.
Next month, a new movie about the Alamo will likely reach a theater near you. If it embraces the counterculture's critique, watch out: Travis, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and their other heroic friends may well be tarred and feathered with crackpot revisionism.
The Left's critique goes something like this:
The Texas Revolution was a devious scheme hatched by Washington to snatch the future Lone Star State from the Mexicans. Moreover, critics claim, even if it weren't, it couldn't possibly have been about freedom, since Texans were for slavery. According to this view, the Revolution was a racist struggle by whites who chafed under Mexican authority.
This critique is wrong on all counts.
Travis' famous words were indeed a plea for help from America. But that help never came. As the whole world watched, neither Congress nor President Andrew Jackson lifted a finger. As for the Texans, though they declared independence later, they initially fought only for their rights under Mexico's U.S.-style constitution of 1824, a constitution which the dictator Santa Anna had shredded.
As for alleged racism as a motive, why were so many of the Alamo's defenders themselves native-born Mexicans? And why did Mexican pro-democracy author, publisher, diplomat and politician Lorenzo de Zavala join the Texan cause as its first Vice President, leaving behind a lifelong career in Mexico and Spain?
As for slavery, even raising the argument misses the point. Slavery remained legal at the time across most of the world, including the United States itself, both North and South. Moreover, despite the unique evil of race-based slavery in the Americas, throughout time slavery cut across all racial lines. Just this week, The Washington Times reported on a new study from Ohio State University describing African Muslim slave raids into Europe down almost to the time of the Alamo, capturing at least a million white Europeans and denuding coastal towns as far north as Iceland. It is no marvel that 1836-era Texans -- or Mexicans, or Algerians, or Ibo - owned slaves: the shock remains that, by the end of that century, slavery had been all but eradicated from the Earth.
In this same vein, the revisionists ignore how many of the Alamo defenders
hailed from other states and even other nations. Why would they join Travis
in the first place? To defend slavery? Hardly.
The new Alamo movie's director is "Happy Days" and "Andy Griffith's" Ron Howard. Let's hope that in the making of the movie, this icon of Americana hasn't surrendered to its harshest foes.
Let's hope he remembers the Alamo -- the real story, of one of the most pivotal moments in all history.
Rod D. Martin, Founder and Chairman of Vanguard
is an attorney and writer from Little Rock, Arkansas. A former policy director
to Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Special Counsel to PayPal.com Founder
Peter Thiel, he is the Center for
Cultural Leadership's Senior Fellow in Public Policy and Political Affairs
and a Vice President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies
Rod D. Martin, 2004.
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