Memo From Mexico | ¿OLVIDATE DEL ALAMO? [FORGET THE ALAMO ?]
“Olvidate del Alamo” (Forget the Alamo) is the title of a painting by Ramon Vásquez y Sánchez. The painting portrays the Alamo with Mexican general Santa Anna`s skull, Mexican soldiers and the souls of the dead departing the scene of battle.
[VDARE.COM NOTE: Santa Anna`s skull is supposed to represent him “turning over in his grave” at the thought of all those Alamo movies. But Santa Anna, who has been described as “one of the unusual historical figures about whom no good word has ever been spoken” survived the battle, and lived until 1876. None of the Alamo`s defenders survived; Santa Anna had all who survived the assault executed, as was his custom.]
Despite the catchy title, Vásquez y Sánchez does not really want us to “forget the Alamo.” If that were the case, he wouldn`t even be painting it.
What he really wants to do is make a statement about his alienation from the United States.
“Olvidate del Alamo” and similar works of art are on display from March 6th to March 31st, 2004, at the “Galeria Expresión” of the “Centro Cultural Aztlán” in San Antonio.
Vásquez y Sánchez is the center`s director. He organized the exhibition, entitled “The Alamo: The Mexican-American Experience.” Originally, seven other artists were asked to participate. But once the word was out, 27 artists offered to join the show.
The exhibition began, not coincidentally, on March 6th—the anniversary of the Fall of the Alamo in 1836. [Exhibit views Alamo battle from a Mexican viewpoint, Elda Silva, MySA.com, March 6th, 2004] [email Vásquez y Sánchez` Centro]
This is not an isolated instance, by the way. In recent years some other Mexican-Americans in Texas have taken to bellyaching about the Alamo. Not all Americans of Mexican ancestry, I hasten to add. But a growing and vocal contingent.
Certainly, an historical discussion of the Alamo shouldn`t in and of itself make us uncomfortable, and we shouldn`t suppose the Alamo defenders were above criticism.
Historical “what-if” discussions are interesting, I`ve engaged in them myself. Yet, when I hear this particular whining about the Alamo by some Mexican-Americans, I can`t help but suspect that something else is going on.
In addition, the Alamo bellyachers regularly fail to present The Texas Revolution (1835-1836) in its historical context.
In 1835, Mexico had only been independent of Spain for 14 years. Among the general populace, a Mexican national identity was almost non-existent. In the sparsely-settled territory that became the U.S., this was even more so.
The Texas Revolution was part and parcel of internal developments within Mexican politics. In 1834, Santa Anna suspended the Mexican Constitution and proclaimed himself dictator. This helped provoke the Texas Revolution.
In the 1830s there were few Spanish-speakers living in Texas. Some of these Spanish-speakers felt no particular loyalty to Mexico and joined the Revolution. Some even perished with Davy Crockett in the Alamo—fighting against the Mexican army.
Certainly Texas` secession from Mexico in 1836 did set the stage for the eventual American conquest of the entire Southwest. But most Mexican-Americans in Texas today are NOT descended from people who were there when it was part of Mexico. They are mostly descended from 20th-century immigrants. It`s highly unlikely they would have migrated to Texas had it still been a part of Mexico.
(For more Texas history, see “Lone Star Setting?”, by Howard Sutherland.)
There`s a new movie coming out about the Alamo.
Vasquéz y Sánchez is not happy with the movie. He hasn`t seen it, but, as Mel Gibson could tell you, not having seen a movie no longer disqualifies activists from criticizing it. After all, Vasquéz y Sánchez has spoken to some of the movie`s extras:
“I already talked to some of the extras and some of the people that participated. Again [Mexicans] are portrayed as hungry-for-blood and when they lose, they walk out with their tails between their legs.“
Vasquéz y Sánchez inadvertently utters a striking parallel with today`s situation:
“What would Bush do if a bunch of illegal aliens came into the state of Texas and tried to take it over? But this is not part of the story, that [the Alamo defenders] were illegal aliens.”
Well, actually, “a bunch of illegal aliens” are coming into the state of Texas and are trying to take over.
And not just Texas, and not just the Southwest, but pretty much the whole country. What is Bush doing?
Bush is actively helping them.
If you get right down to it, The Texas Revolution does provide a lesson—in reverse—for today. Anglo-American settlers first entered Texas under the terms of an agreement with the King of Spain and later the government of Mexico. They didn`t assimilate, became a majority and eventually seceded.
Hmm, there could be a lesson there….
But Vasquéz y Sánchez continúes to bellyache…
“It`s all this negativity that Mexicanos feel about the Alamo.”
“Mexicanos?” But isn`t Vásquez y Sánchez American?
The artist even has advice for Vicente Fox:
“I would welcome Mexico to do a movie on the Alamo. I would even challenge [President] Fox to say `Just tell the truth.` The truth is, these people were defending their country.”
Exactly! And just what country are you defending?
The root problem here is not the Alamo or anything that happened there. The root problem is that a growing segment of our citizenry, including many born in the U.S., choose not to identify with our country.
And that, my friends, is a very real problem indeed.
American citizen Allan Wall lives and works legally in Mexico, where he holds an FM-2 residency and work permit, but serves six weeks a year with the Texas Army National Guard, in a unit composed almost entirely of Americans of Mexican ancestry. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here; his website is here. Readers can contact Allan Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org.