letter to the editor

The Arkansas toothpick

Mon, 01/23/2023 - 3:30pm

Dear Editor:

In his Jan. 19 letter, John Splaine asked us, ”Remember the Alamo?” Everyone does, but each person’s memory is inflected by their own ideology.

For generations, American school children were taught to regard the abandoned Spanish mission as a site of patriotic martyrdom.

Mexicans view it as the opening volley in a war of Anglo aggression against a newly-independent sovereign nation, whose government had ratified an international border with the United States on the Sabine River, far to the east of San Antonio, in1819; abolished slavery in1829; and were seeking to restore law and order against slave-owning planters, squatters, and illegal militias within their state of Coahuila y Texas.

Historical memory is tricky; rarely does a single narrative capture the truth of an event.

But eminent U.S. historian Daniel W. Howe has critically evaluated the primary-source documents of the Texas War and has this to say about the Alamo defenders: “Almost all Anglo-Texans had come from the southern section of the Union and brought with them a commitment to white supremacy. Now [1836] many waged the revolution as a race war against a mestizo nation.”

James W. Loewen sums it up thus: “The Alamo lies deep in the heart of (white) Texas; woe to any textbook that might point out that love of slavery motivated the Anglos to fight there for ‘Freedom.’”

Our own Colin Woodard reminds us that “Deep Southern newspapers covered the [Texas] war intensively, casting it as a racial struggle between barbarous Hispanics and virtuous whites, inspiring thousands of Southern adventurers to cross into Texas to join the fighting.”

I will conclude with an answer to Mr. Splaine’s final question, “How is the United States currently under different circumstance?”

The unarmed, peaceful families seeking legal asylum on our southern border are fleeing murderous gangs, political corruption, climate-change disasters, and crushing poverty.

They have nothing in common with the filibusters whose armed invasion of Mexico, abetted by Sam Houston’s friend, the slave trader and Indian mass-murderer Andrew Jackson, violated international law and carved out Texas with a Bowie knife.

Bill Hammond

Barters Island, Boothbay