Today’s San Antonio Express-News contained a column on re-development of the Alamo penned by Elaine Ayala, a self-described Minority Affairs reporter.
In the context of San Antonio, you might wonder what minorities need a dedicated reporter to ensure that their issues aren’t overlooked. Although traditionally in America the overlooked minorities are blacks, Hispanics, and Asians, these groups already dominate San Antonio. Our recently departed Hispanic mayor was replaced by an African-American, and there are (or soon will be) seven Hispanics, one African-American, and one Asian, along with only two Anglos, on the City Council. Based on city demographics of 63% Hispanic, 7% black, 2% Asian, it appears that only the 27% Anglos are underrepresented on the City Council.
Not surprisingly, the Alamo column by Elaine Ayala objected to the current depiction of the Alamo defenders as heroes and suggested a fairer development of the Alamo not only should take the luster off the heroes, but also should shift attention toward Tejano contributions to the development of Texas. Also not surprisingly, I could not restrain myself from firing off the following angry critique (which I subsequently had to edit due to the paper’s character limit):
This is the type of column to expect from a Minority Affairs reporter and a Latino Life blogger. Life is a series of grievances.
As the city considers ways to upgrade the Alamo, Elaine Ayala suggests that, “Anglo defenders and their motivations have been mythologized. At the same time, new cadres of Latino academics have begun to shed new light on them.” I hope those “Latino academics” don’t have as much of a political agenda as Elaine appears to have.
So, according to Ayala, we upgrade the Alamo by pointing out that some of the defenders were not as purely heroic as history has depicted them? While correcting the inaccurate history of heroic Alamo defenders, Ayala suggests that we shed some light on Tejano contributions to state development, and even on the fact that the Alamo was near Indian burial grounds. (I’m not making this up.)
There can be only one “entry point” to the story of the Alamo – i.e., those 13 days in 1836. People who travel to the Baseball Hall of Fame want to learn about the legends; they don’t want to learn about the tawdry details of the players’ lives. People who travel to Gettysburg want to learn about the crucial Civil War battle; they don’t want to learn about the “rich history” of this Pennsylvania town.
Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg are something that are applicable for the Alamo Plaza committee and ultimately the City Council to recall:
- We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.