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Amid a nationwide energy disaster and a nationwide call to challenge the Critical Race Theory – an academic framework that examines the systemic embedding of race in all aspects of American history – Texas Governor Abbott (R.) canceled a book event dealing with the Racial History of the Battle of the Alamo.
The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, located directly across from the Texas State Capitol in Austin, invited the authors of Forget The Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth to a discussion of their work on Thursday, July 1st an Alamo is a critical examination of the mythology surrounding the Alamo, one of the proudest cultural-historical battles in Texas and the subsequent “Shrine of Freedom of Texas”.
Although Abbott himself did not comment on the cancellation of the event, Vice Governor of Texas Dan Patrick confirmed the move and stated that the board of directors – of which Abbott is a member – is not interested in “rewriting” Texas history.
“As a member of the Preservation Board, I told staff to cancel this event as soon as I found out about it,” Patrick wrote on Twitter. “This fact-free rewriting of the TX story has no place in the BullockMuseum.”
The book by authors Bryan Burrough, Jason Stanford, and Chris Tomlinson questions the mythology of the Alamo and its role in independence from Mexico, and posits that its origins also lie in the preservation of slavery. Celebrating Alamos, the book explains, has a history of maintaining whiteness.
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Author Tomlinson responded to Patrick’s Twitter comment.
“Lt. Gov, Dan Patrick The suppression of free speech and police thought is mounting in Texas, ”he wrote. “@BullockMuseum proves it’s a propaganda outlet. As for his factual comment, a dozen professional historians disagree. “
The Bullock Museum is overseen by the State Preservation Board, a committee made up entirely of white men with one woman serving as a citizen. The board of directors is Republican led and invited; History that does not match the accepted narrative has a slim chance of being shared or preserved.
Texas is one of a number of GOP-led states trying to change the way race is discussed in classrooms. Last month, Texan lawmakers restricted the way teachers could discuss current events – including race – in classrooms, and their upcoming July 8 legislative session will further remove discussion of race in classrooms.
Despite the popularity of the term “critical race theory” among these politicians, critical race theory is not taught in classrooms. It is a deeply academic discipline, but the decision to use this terminology fueled the conservative fire to eradicate any educational discussion about race. Getting the discussion of anti-racism and social justice out of the classroom, that’s what is is taught, does not roll off the tongue so nicely and does not arouse the indignation of white conservative Americans.
Texan lawmakers also created the 1836 project with the aim of promoting the “patriotic upbringing” of citizens. Texass educational requirements in social studies (including history) are already among the lowest for high school graduation. The 1836 project is in direct contrast to the New York Times’ 1619 project, which examines the prominent role of slavery in American history.
Jason Stanford, one of the co-authors of Forget the Alamo, believes the cancellation of the Bullock Museum book event is the first step in the implementation of the 1836 project.
“You insist so vehemently on a version of the past that never existed,” he said in an interview. “There is no reason why conservatives cannot accept the past with open arms and say, this is where we started, this is where we are going. There is no reason why they cannot tell the story of Texas as a redemption story and that we are still an imperfect union that is becoming more and more perfect. “
But not all politicians are happy with the decision to cancel the event. Former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, whose previous role included responsibility for The Alamo, believes the event should have gone as planned.
“It would have been better if they had been asked hard, specific questions and forced to answer them. And in that case they should have been at the Bullock, ”he said.
Just as Juniteenth – the day troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, two full years after the Emancipation Proclamation to educate enslaved people of their freedom – is celebrated as a federal holiday, more and more states are stepping up their anti-racism campaigns. The decision to cancel the event poses a challenge to freedom of expression and shows how far conservative politicians are trying to wash away the events of history.
This cancellation of an event designed to advance the discourse on the true history of The Alamo and Texas has instead fallen victim to an ongoing agenda of white supremacy.
Forget The Alamo has received positive reviews from The New York Times, The Houston Chronicle, and The Wall Street Journal, among others.