November 20, 2009
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS—It’s good to be in Texas. To a European like me, Texas is why we came to America. It’s a huge state, but more important, it’s a state of mind. It is a fount of freedom and imagination. For most of the inhabitants of America’s two coasts, Texas is worse than flyover country. Texas represents everything they hate about America: Texas is big, loud, white, Republican, Christian; it produces fossil fuel, its citizens drive big cars that use up a lot of fuel, they eat a lot—starchy, fatty foods—they carry guns. The so-called elites in the Bagel, inside the Beltway, and in El Lay turn Orlando Furioso whenever the word “Texas” comes up. They see it as a stronghold of religious fundamentalism, homophobia, racism, sexism, and mindless patriotism. And now Texas is tainted through its association with George W. Bush and the neocons who conned him, two disastrous unnecessary wars, bank bailouts, and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Mind you, I loved the place the moment I set foot on its soil. It was my first time. And I walked straight to the Alamo.
Here’s a bit of historical background from Professor Taki of the University of Texas: In 1846, ten years after the Alamo, President James Polk took office with the intention of seizing all Mexican territory between Texas and the Pacific, including California. He sent General Zachary Tailor to grab land north of the Rio Grande, provoking a shoot-out with Mexican troops. War was declared by Jimmy Polk (I call him Jimmy because I once slept in his family bed in Virginia, hence the familiarity) and he invaded Mexico. A bit like looking for WMD’s in Iraq 157 years later, but what the heck. Although the Mexicans fought bravely the Gringos prevailed, and in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico gave up—get this—all claims to Texas and what is today California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Arizona, Wyoming, and New Mexico. No wonder Mexicans are known to mug Gringo drunks and steal their wallets. They feel entitled. And now to the Alamo. It’s the American Thermopylae and San Antonio’s prime attraction. Texas being Texas, there are two of them. The real one and that of John Wayne. The real one and its walled-in, landscaped grounds are a green oasis in the heart of busy downtown San Antonio. The city of 1.2 million was built around the old Spanish mission known as the Alamo. All that remains of the original fort are the church and part of the walls of the convent. The guns used to repel Santa Ana are there, the same guns which were turned against the gallant defendants once the Federales had overrun the outer walls. When John Wayne came down to shoot his film, he realized the original mission was no good. You couldn’t very well have Mexican troops in plumes charging up through skyscrapers and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, which surround the real thing. So he went out to the desert some fifteen miles and threw up the Hollywood version. It outdraws the original by three to one I am told.
I loved the Duke’s movie, but then I love all lost causes. President Monroe had given up any claim to Texas during Mexico’s war of independence from Spain, the latter giving permission for some 300 Americans to settle there. The new Mexican government went along with it and the new Texans swore allegiance to Mexico. Which in a way is like swearing allegiance to Brussels. The Gringos were too pro-U.S. and General Santa Anna marched on San Antonio with 2,500 troops to teach them a lesson. 189 Americans, most of them recently arrived, decided to fight in the Alamo. Santa Anna’s troops were tired and had obsolete weapons. The Gringos were sharpshooters and had better cannons and arms. After a 13-day siege, the Mexicans breached the north wall of the fort and in a 90-minute fierce hand-to-hand battle every defender was killed. William Travis, of South Carolina, died early on from a bullet to the head. James Bowie of Tennessee died in his sickbed, fighting to the last with his famous Bowie knife, no one knows how the great David Crockett fell, but fall he did. 600 Mexicans died, one, Jose Maria Torres, while raising the Mexican flag after tearing down the Texan banner. His hand was still on the flagpole when Santa Anna came in to review the massacre. One slave, one Mexican, and a few women were allowed to go free and spread the word. Remember the Alamo became the slogan for the Mexican-American war that followed ten years later. Santa Anna died a pauper, and not a billionaire, probably the only Mexican president (as he became later) to do so, .
The names of Bowie, Travis, Crockett and the rest are all carved on the monument in front of the mission. They are all Anglo-Saxon and German names, with two Hispanic ones. In the speech I gave to the Rockford Institute, I mentioned the fact that they died in vain, because they were fighting for Texan independence, not for the Union. If Texas was independent today it would be an even greater state and far richer than it is. In fact I would move there tomorrow and even wear a ten gallon hat and date a cheerleader. But it was not to be. Like Britain in the EU, Texas is being slowly strangled by the socialist monster of DC.
Daily updates with TM’s latest