05/01/2008

Remembering the Alamo

Last night I had the displeasure of watching the 2004 remake of The Alamo, director John Lee Hancock’s attempt to improve on John Wayne’s 1960 film of the same title – I had recorded the film about two weeks ago. The latter improves on it alright, in so far as there is more action and in so far it glorifies bloodshed, but as a true account of the battle, set in its rightful context, the latter is every much the crock of shit the first film is.

The Alamo still stands and there is a plaque there that designates it as a shrine and Texas Law authoritatively makes the Alamo into "a sacred memorial to the heroes who immolated themselves upon that hallowed ground."

Texan school children are taught never to forget the Alamo and can readily account for the bold deeds of its champions, most notably Jim Bowie, Davey Crocket and Colonel Travis who defiantly defended the Alamo, actually a church, against the uncivilized Mexicans. Just who these gallant defenders really were and what was at stake is something Texan kids will never have the fortune to find out from their brow-beating school masters.

The MTWSFH blog poignantly observes:

“Who are these heroes of liberty? Davy Crockett, ethnic cleanser and slave owner. Jim Bowie, land speculator, slave owner and slave trader. And what were our heroes doing in the Alamo mission in the first place?

“In 1835, there were about twenty thousand Americans and four thousand slaves living in the Mexican state of Texas, most of the slaves engaged in making their owners wealthier by the cultivation of cotton. In December of 1835, the Mexican government effectively banned slavery in Texas. Always keen to defend freedom and liberty, the American settlers attempted to secede and steal Texas from Mexico in order to maintain slavery and the wealth and power they derived from it.

“Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna arrived with troops and laid siege to the Catholic mission of the Alamo, which the slave-owners had seized. At the end of a thirteen day siege, all the inhabitants of the Alamo, with the exception of women, children and slaves, were dead.

“The siege of the Alamo is then re-invented, the truth turned upside down, becoming yet another of the great lies of American “history”, spread through a host of movies, television programs, books and articles.

What is then hidden from Texas history is the extermination of the Lipan Apaches, Aranamas, Karankawas, Tonkawas, Kohanis, Cocos, Bidais, Nacisis, Koasatis, Eyeishes, Nabedachies, Nacogdoches, Kichais, Hainais, Anadarkos, Yowanes, Tawakonis, Wacos, Caddos, Kickapoos, Kiowas, Kiowa Apaches, Tawehashes, Comanches, and more. All these Indian peoples were wiped from the face of the earth forever after Texas won its”freedom”. Can you imagine any school teacher imparting these facts to kids and keeping their jobs?

The Alamo was part and parcel of a battle in reality fought so that Black people could be legally bought and sold as pieces of property! Celebrating the Alamo means glorifying the arrest of over 100 enslaved Black people in 1835 - when many were murdered for planning a slave uprising - ust as these Texan slave owners were planning their uprising against Mexico. It means glorifying the Jim Crow system, the terror of the Ku Klux Klan, and the lynching of countless Black people in Texas history.

If you’re studying history, there’s one thing you have to be always cautious of - it’s the victors that get to write the damned history. It is the duty, therefore, of every revolutionary to tell it like it was, and is, at every opportunity.

As Orwell said: “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future” To bloody right!

In the battle of ideas, the real war we wage against the master class, we must not concede them one inch in interpreting the past – they have so much to lose and we have so much to gain.

2 comments:

speakfree said...

I like the truth about the Alamo being juxtaposed against the propaganda piece. The amazing thing about America is that, for the most part, no one has to force anyone to create and distribute propaganda. It's instinctive and consequently all-pervasive.

The late, unlamented Joseph Goebbels was, like Orwell, a keen student of the means by which the ruling class maintains its hold on power. He said, "The essence of propaganda consists of winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly
and can never escape from it."

John: said...

Indeed!. And George Bush seems to have taken a leaf from many a nazi propagandist's book. Goebbels aside, here's Hermann Goering

“…But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is a simple matter to drag the people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship…Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country.”


which should be read in conjunction with Bush's State of the Union Address from 2002:

…”We have seen the depth of our enemies’ hatred in videos, where they laugh about the loss of innocent life. And the depth of their hatred is equalled by the madness of the destruction they design. We have found diagrams of American nuclear power plants and public water facilities, detailed instructions for making chemical weapons, surveillance maps of American cities…. Thousands of dangerous killers, schooled in the methods of murder, often supported by…. outlaw regimes are now spread throughout the world like ticking time bombs, set to go off without warning….time is not on our side. I will not wait on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril grows closer and closer….tens of thousands of trained terrorists are still at large. These enemies view the entire world as a battlefield and we must pursue them wherever they are. And all nations should know. America will do what is necessary to secure our nation’s security.”