Ross: Not blame, but redemption

Jul 23, 2021, 5:47 AM | Updated: 9:41 am
Celebrities and guests tour the Alamo on March 27, 2004, at the Disney Premiere After Party in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Jill Torrance/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jill Torrance/Getty Images)

I’ve been reading a book called Forget the Alamo — and talk about an author with guts. Jason Stanford, who co-authored this book, and lives in Austin, uses the records kept by the Mexican side in the assault on the Alamo to show that Davy Crockett did NOT go down fighting, but even more controversial, that the defenders of the Alamo took their stand for one reason: They wanted to stop the Mexican government from abolishing slavery in Texas, which would have destroyed the cotton plantations run by American immigrants.

This, of course, is heresy in Texas. The State Board of Education actually requires that schoolchildren be taught a “heroic” version of the Alamo story. But Stanford says he is not trying to send Texans on a guilt trip, even though he supports efforts like Critical Race Theory to un-censor U.S. history.

“I think it’s a useful way to understand the country,” Stanford said. “I think we need to go, ‘OK, what’s next.’ It’s very interesting and instructive that we have an inherently systemically racist country. OK, what then? The story of us can’t be that we’re bad to the bone and we rip it up. We’re not going to rip it up. We are here now.”

So he’s not trying to make white Texans feel guilty, he just thinks it’s wrong to base patriotism on a state-sponsored lie.

He thinks there’s a better way to instill love of country. And that is to teach students to honor the process for peaceful change laid out in the U.S. Constitution:

“We have written into our founding document the mechanism for continual self improvement. We are a redemption story. We’re not supposed to have gotten it right at the beginning. We’re supposed to keep working at getting better. That is what the history shows us is that no matter where we started, we can still do better. And we have. And I think that is a story that doesn’t divide us and that brings us both together around the truth.”

He also told me that the Hispanic population of Texas has been on a slow boil for a long time about the official version of the Alamo story, and since they will soon be in the majority, it might be wise to start teaching the facts now, rather than later.

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