He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.
– George Orwell
Of all the states, Texas has the most politically incorrect past. Unique in American history, it was a sovereign nation for nine years after winning independence from Mexico in a brief but bloody revolt. During its years of independence, the Republic of Texas had to fight for its life against two Mexican invasions seeking to re-conquer lost territory, as well as countless Indian attacks.
Even after it entered the Union in 1845, Texas continued to fight a two-front war against a revenge-minded Mexico and a formidable array of Indian nations — above all, the dreaded Comanche — in order to secure its territory for white settlement. In the midst of this conflict, Texas joined the Confederacy and suffered the added traumas of war, defeat and Reconstruction. And, as thousands of fighting men headed east to serve in Southern armies, the western frontier collapsed under Indian attack. Comanche and Kiowa raiders took advantage of the near-absence of men to launch a final, especially vicious war that did not end until 1875. The Mexican border — as present headlines demonstrate — has never ceased to be a source of disorder, crime, and violence.
All these events are part of an incredibly violent, conflict-ridden past that certainly contradicts notions that “diversity makes us stronger” and that equality is the ultimate good. Indeed, the history of the Lone Star State can be seen as the story of how a very non-diverse and racially conscious group of white people fought and defeated diverse groups of non-whites to take possession of a vast territory and create a successful society. This history — bloody, dramatic, tragic, and glorious — has been a source of great pride for the people of Texas.
But not anymore. Academic historians are using Orwell’s dictum about controlling the past to control the future as they rewrite Texas history. In the new version, instead of the struggle by white pioneers to forge a viable society in what had previously been a failed province of Spain and a failed state of Mexico — whose real rulers were the plains Indians — we have an aggressive Anglo invasion against progressive, multiracial communities. Instead of brave frontiersmen and -women, we have racist slave-owners and swindling land pirates, eager to exploit blacks, steal land from Mexicans, and commit genocide against Indians. One of the leading revisionist historians is Gary Anderson. In the introduction to his 2005 work, The Conquest of Texas, he sums up the “modern” view:
. . . rather than a fight for liberty, the 1835 Anglo-led revolution was a poorly conceived southern land grab that nearly failed. Texans had an overwhelming desire to expand slavery (an institution that Mexico had outlawed) and to use slave labor to increase profits made from cotton production. [All previous history of Texas] . . . is exculpatory history, at least in terms of Anglo guilt.
There is a definite pecking order in this new history based on every non-white group’s level of victimization by Anglos. (In Texas history, “Anglo” means any American-born white person.) Blacks, the champions of oppression everywhere else, lose pride of place to others. First come the Indians. Once known as Native Americans in PC-speak, this term has in turn become politically incorrect because “American” comes from Amerigo Vespucci, a white explorer. Trendier academics favor “the indigenous,” “First Peoples,” or “First Nations.”
A close second are Mexicans. Spaniards, though held in low regard for oppressing Indians, are morally superior to Anglo-Americans. The fact that Mexicans continued brutal Spanish policies against los Indios is seldom held against them. Indeed, as mestizo people, Mexicans are seen by some academic historians as morally superior even to Indians. Miscegenation is ennobling.
Anglos rank at the bottom, of course, but some Anglos rank higher than others. Lowest are the people who helped push back the Indian frontier: the settlers and pioneers of 19th century Texas. In fact, some modern historians avoid terms such as “pioneers,” “settlers” and “frontiersmen” — at least for white people. When I visited the museum at an old cavalry fort in west Texas a few years ago, I noticed that the only term for Anglos, including the first people to farm or ranch in the area, was “immigrants.” Since Indians and sometimes Mexicans were there first, that is the only allowed term. It is also supposed to remind us that we are no different from today’s “immigrants,” whom we presume to call “illegal.”
The German–Texans who settled the hill country west of Austin are somewhat higher on the scale, because they opposed slavery and the Confederacy. Today, some whites try to raise their status by reinventing themselves. The people of Galveston, a coastal city on the Gulf of Mexico, have tried to repudiate the bad old days when they were a slave port by claiming to be the “Ellis Island of Texas,” the gateway for ethnically diverse immigrants from around the world.
Of course, many Anglos can never be rehabilitated. Near the bottom of the pecking order are the Texas Rangers. Many Texans still see them, after the men who defended the Alamo, as the state’s most revered figures in popular culture, but among academic historians the Rangers rank just slightly higher than the Ku Klux Klan. Like the Klan, they are considered a terrorist organization guilty of countless crimes against helpless Mexicans and Indians. In the last decade, at least three scholarly books have denounced the Rangers as perhaps the greatest villains in Texas history.
As the new history gets established, the writers of the old history must be discredited. One target of the PC historians is Theodore R. Fehrenbach (usually known as T.R. Fehrenbach). His Lone Star, written in the 1960s, is still the finest and most popular history of the state, and was made into a PBS television series in the 1980s. Although he was a typical mid-20th century liberal on race, Mr. Fehrenbach is now a “racist” because of his graphic descriptions of the torture and mutilation that Comanches and Kiowas often inflicted on white captives — though he was equally unsparing in describing atrocities whites committed against Indians. He is also scorned for celebrating the courage, toughness, and fighting prowess of the Anglo-Celt pioneers. In the age of PC, Anglo-Celts must have no admirable qualities.
There is another reason professional historians dislike Mr. Fehrenbach: He isn’t one of them. Like Shelby Foote, the Mississippi author of the best modern history of the Civil War, Mr. Fehrenbach is a journalist, not a PhD-holding academic. His books are loved, and regularly outsell anything produced by the professors, which they resent. Gary Anderson, quoted above, says Mr. Fehrenbach has been “long consigned to the unused bookshelf by most academic historians.” This is hardly true. In his award-winning 2008 study, Comanche Empire, Pekka Hamalainen found it necessary to condemn Fehrenbach’s attitude towards Indians but still included 13 citations to his work.
The politically correct view dominates university classrooms and academic publishing, but it is not popular among Texans. One reason is that Mr. Fehrenbach and, more recently, S. C. Gwynne do a better job of looking at the past with common sense and explaining it in plain English. The academic historians not only push an academic agenda; they can get tangled up in their own esoteric and pretentious jargon.
At the same time, Texans refuse to give up their view of Texas Rangers as the great heroes — not the villains — of Texas history, just as Mississippians and Alabamans defend the Confederate battle flag and the honor the Confederate soldier. One reason for the continued popularity of the Rangers has been Larry McMurtry’s fictional Lonesome Dove series about rangers, which was made into popular TV movies. Ironically, Mr. McMurtry is a typical liberal — though hardly an academic historian.
A look at a few recent works and how they were received will help us understand the current state of Texas history and why political correctness is sometimes a hard sell. From a race-realist point of view, they run the gamut from the ugly and the bad to the good.
Phillip Thomas Tucker, Exodus from the Alamo: The Anatomy of the Last Stand Myth, Casemate Publishers, 2010, 404 pp.
. . . scared young men far from home attempting to surrender in vain, and scores of escapees running for their lives on the open prairie, only to be cut down by the sabres and lances of Mexican cavalrymen outside the Alamo.
– Phillip Thomas Tucker
The battle of the Alamo is the most famous, the most symbolic, and the most written about event in Texas history. The heroism of the defenders and their deaths, ordered by Mexican dictator Santa Anna, electrified the American people and inspired renewed resistance to the advancing Mexican army. This led to the defeat and capture of Santa Anna at San Jacinto, ensuring Texas independence. The Alamo became a revered symbol of sacrifice in the cause of freedom and of the fighting spirit for which Texas is still known. It has been the subject of thousands of articles and books in the 177 years since the battle took place on March 6, 1836.
Needless to say, any event that celebrates and legitimizes Anglo resistance to Mexican rule must be debunked. That is what Phillip Thomas Tucker tries to do in his 2010 account of the battle, Exodus from the Alamo: The Anatomy of the Last Stand Myth. According to Dr. Tucker, everything we have been taught about the Alamo is a myth. The belief that there was a last stand, that the defenders died heroically at their posts, that they killed or wounded hundreds of Mexican attackers — it’s all “based on fantasy.” “If all the defenders were killed,” he asks, “how do we really know what happened at the Alamo?” A good question. We really don’t know that much, but Dr. Tucker, who specializes in military history, does:
Rather than mounting a climactic last stand with a well-organized, tenacious defense, a totally unprepared Alamo garrison was caught . . . completely by surprise. The garrison consisted of citizen-soldiers with little of the military training or experience of their well-honed Mexican opponents, whose attack left them so stunned that they never recovered from the shock. . . . More of a rout and a slaughter than a battle in the traditional sense, the struggle for the Alamo lasted only about twenty minutes, making it one of the shortest armed clashes in American military history for an iconic battle.
Dr. Tucker goes on to claim that most of the Alamo garrison, terrified of the courageous Mexicans, abandoned their posts and were cut down by Mexican cavalry as they fled outside the Alamo’s walls. He says the Mexicans lost only 70 killed and 200 wounded, with many — perhaps most — of the casualties due to “friendly fire” during the pre-dawn darkness in which the attack took place. The myth or heroic resistance arose because:
. . . American and Texas nationalist historians have casually dismissed the truth of the Alamo because the legend has always shored up a sense of Anglo-Celtic superiority over a mixed-race people . . .
This is the larger context of the myth:
. . . latecoming interlopers [whites], primarily from the United States, of the Mexican province of Texas were transformed into the righteous defenders of a white bastion of Anglo-Celtic civilization, while Mexican troops, who were defending their republic’s home soil . . . were tarnished as godless invaders and barbarians. This mythical Alamo justified a sense of moral supremacy and righteous entitlement to Texas at the expense of the Indian, Tejano, and Mexican people. The mythical last stand, in which a relatively small band of white heroes defy the mixed-race horde, demonstrated the moral, racial, and cultural superiority over Latino brown people needed to justify and rationalize one of the greatest land-grabs in American history. [Note the recurrence of the idea of a land grab.]
There is no doubt that the Texans’ victory in their war of independence against Mexico gave them a sense of superiority over Mexicans. And why not? Twenty-five thousand Anglo settlers with no real army defeated a nation of 7,000,000 people that had a professional, battle-tested military force that included many European officers. This humiliation has always been a source of anger and frustration to Mexicans — and now to some American historians.
But what of Tucker’s account of the battle? The few Texan non-combatants who survived, such as the slave of Alamo commander William B. Travis, left contradictory accounts. The Mexican accounts also contradict each other. One thing is clear: Dr. Tucker’s use of the available evidence is highly selective and imaginative.
Veteran Alamo scholars Gary Edmonson and Thomas Ricks Turner, who have studied the subject for decades and rely heavily on Mexican sources, believe that although Santa Anna did achieve surprise, the Texan garrison quickly recovered and put up fierce resistance. The battle lasted much longer than the 20 minutes counted by Dr. Tucker–one hour, possibly longer. There were probably two groups, numbering up to 60 men out of roughly 200 in the Alamo garrison, who tried to break out, but were cut down by Mexican cavalry.
The reports of the chief Mexican army surgeon after the battle, though incomplete, indicate roughly 200 dead and between 300 and 400 wounded, or at least 25 percent of the 2,000-man assault force. Even if over half were from friendly fire — as Dr. Tucker suggests, extrapolating with gusto from ambiguous sources — the defenders still gave a good account of themselves.
Although Dr. Tucker seems certain about every other detail of the Alamo battle, he is vague about the fate of its most famous defender: Davy Crockett. He can’t decide whether Crockett was killed inside the walls, or attempted to escape and was cut down outside, or — as recounted in the diary of Jose de la Pena, a Mexican officer and eyewitness — was captured alive and then executed on Santa Anna’s orders. (Despite a recent History Channel program suggesting that Crockett’s surrender is a new and controversial issue, most students of the Alamo have believed for decades that he was captured along with several other defenders and executed shortly after the fighting.)
Dr. Tucker’s research is too inept to be seen as a serious attempt to provide an authentic description of the battle. His real purpose seems to be to delegitimize the Anglo presence in Texas by trying to downplay the greatest symbol of the Anglo heroism and sacrifice that created Texas.
He is also openly hostile to the defenders. Tennessean Micajah Autry, for example, was well educated and a talented artist, but “his drawings failed to depict the slaves his family owned,” and whose labor, we are told, made his expensive education possible. Another defender was “the pampered son of a wealthy Philadelphia family who sought more wealth and glory in Texas.”
Instead of understanding the deadly risk they were running in rebelling against Mexican authority, the clueless and always land-hungry Anglos “acted as if they were on a lark, after which they would collect the land promised them.” But a few days after confronting Santa Anna’s army of well-trained professionals, “all the confidence, braggadocio, and sense of racial and cultural superiority had long evaporated from the once jaunty Alamo defenders.” Dr. Tucker repeatedly declares that the Anglo defenders’ “ugly racial stereotypes of the Mexican character lulled them into a false sense of complacency,” which led to their defeat.
Exodus from the Alamo has not been a success. Sales were weak, and the academic reception was tepid — perhaps because the book’s assertions are such obvious nonsense. Tellingly, the back cover, which is usually reserved for laudatory blurbs, is blank. The few perfunctory reviews in scholarly journals such as Southwestern Historical Quarterly noted, with mild disdain, Dr. Tucker’s claim that everyone who wrote about the Alamo before him was wrong, but they are silent on his portrayal of the Alamo garrison as incompetent cowards. At Amazon, however, the book’s reception has been hot and hostile. Lay readers are not shy about criticizing the book, often in scorching detail.
Dr. Tucker believes a sentence can never have too many adjectives and adverbs. The resulting tangle of prose almost requires a machete. This contributes to my single-adjective summation of this book: ugly.
Gary Anderson, The Conquest of Texas: Ethnic Cleansing in The Promised Land, 1820 — 1875, University of Oklahoma Press, 2005, 494 pp.
The racial prejudices of 19th-century Texans, who came predominantly from the slaveholding South and feared both slave conspiracy and slave revolt, led them to expect people of other races to conspire against them. Such a worldview distorted Texas history: Indians, brutal and bloodthirsty, were always at fault, and Texas Rangers were saviors. . . . Such a historical interpretation — written by the first two generations of Texas historians — is mythology.
– Gary Anderson
By contrast, Gary Clayton Anderson, a professor of history at the University of Oklahoma, is a decent writer and a competent historian. He has done solid work in the past, including The Indian Southwest 1580-1830, which sheds new light on the origins of early Texas and Southwest Indian groups.
But the purpose of his 2005, The Conquest of Texas: Ethnic Cleansing in the Promised Land, 1820 — 1875, is virtually identical to that of Exodus from the Alamo. Prof. Anderson maintains that the central event of 19th-century Texas is the “ethnic cleansing” of Indians, a term Prof. Anderson prefers over the more usual “genocide.” He argues that whites had no right to expand westward:
Texas was not a wilderness open for the taking. American Indians lived in Texas, and they wished to preserve their claim to this land for the benefit of their progeny. To be sure, the Texas tribes had experienced many evolutionary changes. The initial, indigenous inhabitants — Jumanos, Coahuiltecans, Tonkawas, Karankawas, Apaches, and Caddos — had faced decline and, in some cases, near extinction.
Texas actually was a wilderness “open for the taking,” but the people doing the taking — until the arrival of Anglo settlers in the 1820s — were the Comanches. It was Comanches who pushed out the groups Prof. Anderson identifies above. Starting in the second half of the 18th century, they invaded Texas from the northwest. In exceptionally brutal fighting, they defeated the tribes already living there, absorbing some, exterminating others, and driving still others — such as the Apaches — into deserts and other marginal areas.
The Comanches also wiped out several Spanish outposts, raiding so aggressively that the Hispanic population of Texas — only 3,000 to begin with — dropped by one-fourth by the beginning of the 19th century. As Pekka Hamalainen points out in Comanche Empire, the Comanches were so powerful they reduced the Spanish provinces of New Mexico and Texas to tributary status. In other words, by the time white Americans entered Texas, the dominant Indians in the region were themselves conquering newcomers.
To Prof. Anderson, however, the typical Anglo settler was greedy, boorish, and violent, combining the traits of a burglar and squatter, and justifying his behavior with a generous dose of racism. The Conquest of Texas isn’t so much a history book as an indictment against the traditional heroes of Texas history, especially the Texas Rangers. Although Prof. Anderson acknowledges some ranger units were “. . . fine troops: well mounted, well led, and disciplined,” this is how he describes the majority:
Filled with hatred and malice, members of such groups seldom took prisoners or even asked whether the Indians they attacked were friendly or hostile. . . . more often than not [Rangers were] brutal murderers.
Anderson flays the Rangers for atrocity after atrocity. Along the way he excoriates Walter Prescott Webb, the most famous historian of the Rangers, for excusing such behavior “as part of nation building” and as of “the story of the American frontier.”
It is true that Rangers sometimes committed atrocities, but Prof. Anderson does not acknowledge that atrocities had been part of Indian warfare — on both sides — since the early 17th century. What happened in Texas cannot be seen in isolation from what had been happening on the American frontier for two centuries before that: raid and counter-raid. Indians burn homesteads and butcher white families; whites then destroy Indian villages, often killing at least some of the women and children.
Like so many PC historians, Prof. Anderson is guilty of “presentism.” He judges the past by the standards of the present, and condemns anyone who don’t measure up. The Anglo pioneers of Texas, many of whom were “born fighting” to use James Webb’s phrase, should not be judged by the standards of 21st century liberalism.
What about the murders of white settlers? Prof. Anderson blames white outlaws, who he says slaughtered white families as well as innocent Indians. Whenever the primary sources express doubt about the identity of the perpetrators, Prof. Anderson assumes they were white outlaws rather than Indians. Any source who blames Indians he dismisses as an unreliable “Indian hater.”
It is certainly true that Indians did not cause all the frontier violence. There were plenty of bad white men, Mexicans, half-breeds, and others stealing livestock and killing people. Earlier historians, including Mr. Fehrenbach and Walter Prescott Webb, wrote about this decades ago. However, these older historians failed to show enough contrition, and their work can be disregarded.
Prof. Anderson simply ignores important sources that do not support his conclusions. Two of these are Noah Smithwick and Charles Goodnight. Smithwick was a blacksmith who fought in the Texas Revolution and early ranger companies, and Goodnight was a ranger who invented the cattle drive. Both left memoirs that are considered indispensable sources for life on the frontier — until the rise of PC — and are rich in details about Indian attacks. It is clear that the reality of Indian attack was the single most important fact of frontier life.
But what was perhaps worst about the Anglos is that they did not appreciate “diversity:”
Texans never agreed to accept the existence of western Plains Indians in the state under any circumstances. It was this denial, this refusal to accept ethnic diversity . . . that condemned Texas to a history of violence and instability.
In fact, if there is anything good to say about The Conquest of Texas, it is that Prof. Anderson succeeds in showing how incredibly complex and diverse a place early Texas was, with scores of different Indian tribes, Mexicans, half-breeds, escaped slaves, outlaws, renegades, adventurers, and Anglo settlers, all jostling for space and contending for dominance. Naturally, Prof. Anderson fails to see that it was the lack of diversity among the Anglos — their racial solidarity — that enabled them to defeat the other groups that together greatly outnumbered them.
Far from condemning Texas to a history of violence and instability, this “refusal to accept ethnic diversity” eventually created a peaceful, stable and prosperous society that is the envy of the more “diverse” but blighted societies Prof. Anderson reveres.
The author’s inability to face facts or use sources that undercut his assumptions make The Conquest of Texas a bad book.
Sam C. Gwynne, Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, Scribners, 2010, 371 pp.
It is interesting to note Texas’s peculiar position here: neither of these enemies would have accepted peace on the terms the new republic would have offered them. Even more remarkably, neither would accept surrender. The Mexican army consistently gave no quarter, most famously at the Alamo. All Texan combatants were summarily shot. The Comanches, meanwhile, did not even have a word for surrender. . . . it was always a fight to the death. In this sense, Texans did not have the usual range of diplomatic options. They had to fight.
-S. C. Gwynne
Exodus from the Alamo and The Conquest of Texas are not the only kind of history even in the age of PC. Empire of the Summer Moon is very different. The story revolves around Quanah Parker, the last great Comanche war chief. Parker was the half-white son of Cynthia Ann Parker, who at age 9 was kidnapped by Indians after a raid in which many of her family were killed. Although the story has been told many times before (it is still known by many Texas schoolchildren, and inspired the movie The Searchers), Mr. Gwynne tells the tale of Cynthia Ann Parker and her son with such skill that Empire reads like high adventure. The book has become a best seller–the most popular Texas history book since Lone Star. More wide ranging than a biography, it’s an excellent primer on Comanche history, the Anglo settlement of Texas, and the collision between two peoples.
Unlike academics who view Indians and Mexicans as good and whites as bad, Mr. Gwynne (like Mr. Fehrenbach, he is a journalist) presents a more balanced picture. He even sees similarities between the Comanches and the pioneers:
Both . . . had for the previous two centuries been busily engaged in the bloody conquest and near-extermination of Native American tribes. Both had succeeded in hugely expanding the lands under their control.
Although highly critical of what he sees as Anglo racism and rapaciousness towards the Indians, Mr. Gwynne is unsparing in his depiction of Indian savagery towards whites. One of many bloody episodes he describes is what happened to three fugitives from the raid in which Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped:
All three were surrounded and stripped of all their clothing. One can only imagine their horror as they cowered before their tormentors on the open plain. The Indians then went to work on them, attacking the old man with tomahawks, and forcing Granny Parker, who kept trying to look away, to watch what they did to him. They scalped him, cut off his genitals, and killed him . . . Then they turned their attentions to Granny, pinning her to the ground with their lances, raping her, driving a knife deep into one of her breasts, and leaving her for dead. They threw Elizabeth Kellogg on a horse and took her away.
Gary Anderson describes the same raid in The Conquest of Texas without giving any of the grisly details. Indeed, Indian violence against pioneers is either expurgated or euphemized in most recent history books. In the PC era, it’s not only newspapers and television stations that censor reports of atrocities against whites.
However, the most important way in which Empire of the Summer Moon differs from PC history is how it depicts whites themselves. They are shown, not as the slave-whipping, Mexican-oppressing, Indian-murdering caricatures one now sees in countless movies and TV shows, but as:
. . . simple farmers imbued with a fierce Calvinist work ethic, steely optimism, and a cold-eyed aggressiveness that made them refuse to yield even in the face of extreme danger. They were said to fear God so much that there was no fear left over for anyone or anything else. . . . They, more than columns of dusty bluecoats, were what conquered the Indians. [The Parker family] offers a nearly perfect example of the sort of righteous, up-country folk who lived in dirt-floored, mud-chinked cabins, played ancient tunes on the fiddle, took their Kentucky rifles with them into the fields, and dragged the rest of American civilization westward along with them.
Although one can quarrel with Mr. Gywnne’s occasional use of purple prose and overuse of superlatives, Empire of the Summer Moon is a very good book. The story it tells is so dramatic, exciting, and tragic it’s hard to put down. For anyone interested in how Texas got to be Texas, Empire is a far better place to start than Exodus from the Alamo or The Conquest of Texas.
The future of history
The history of Texas was unique in North America, but never unique or even unusual in the world of man. It was an old, old story: new peoples, new civilizations impinging on the old. The reactions of these peoples — Caucasian, Amerind, and Hispanic-Mexican — were in no sense aberrations. The treatment of one culture or one race by another was always determined by relative strengths and weaknesses, and by the nature of the cultures themselves, dynamic or regressive. It was never, and probably never will be, so long as men stay men, determined by internal ethical or moral ideas and institutions. More Texans understood this, out of their history, than their compatriots who never physically or spiritually left the safety of the sheltering Appalachians.
Since history is a story we tell about the past, I will end with two stories. (The first is from Oklahoma, but could easily be from Texas.) They reflect contrasting realities about what young white people see today as their heritage.
The first story comes from David Yeagley, a Comanche Indian and college professor who spoke at the 2012 American Renaissance conference. During a discussion about patriotism in one of his psychology classes, a female student — visibly upset — told him how ashamed and worthless she felt as a white person. “My race,” she said, “it’s just nothing!” Dr. Yeagley pointed out that she had taken a course from a history instructor known for haranguing students with anti-white ideas. Multiply her confusion and demoralization by the millions and you get some idea of what today’s version of American history has done to young white people.
The second story comes from what I saw a few years ago in a 7th-grade Texas history class. I was observing a teacher at another school; my principal required teachers to do this as part of their professional development. The school was in an affluent, nearly all-white suburb near Dallas, and every student in this class was white. It was taught by a very young woman — no older than 25. The lesson that day was “Indian Depredations in Texas,” which she had taken from the title of an 1889 book about the Indian Wars. She read passages out of the book to her pupils which recounted, in graphic detail, the horrible mutilations and torture which Indians inflicted on their white captives. Then she read from Fehrenbach’s Lone Star about the battles between the Texas Rangers and the Comanches. The students were wide-eyed with excitement, bursting with questions, and enthralled by what they were hearing. Whatever emotion they were feeling, it wasn’t shame, or guilt or worthlessness. What their young faces showed was pride, pride in what their ancestors had endured and accomplished.
After the class I asked the teacher why she had chosen to read such violent passages. She told me her family was descended from pioneers, and that as a girl she had heard stories passed down for generations about how hard it had been on the frontier. “I want my students to know what we had to go through,” she said.
Both of these stories reflect the teaching of history in Texas — and the rest of the country. Which reality will prevail? Certainly, shame and demoralization now seem to characterize white attitudes about almost everything. I suspect there are not many history teachers like that young woman.
But there are some, and that is cause for hope. The popularity of a book like Empire of the Summer Moon is a positive sign as well.
This also brings to mind something I heard at the 2012 American Renaissance conference. As a speaker discussed the powerful forces threatening the very existence of the white race, he counseled against despair and quoted Spengler: “Pessimism is cowardice.” Texans have never been cowards. As Voltaire observed, in this world, one is either the hammer or the anvil. The Anglo-Celt pioneers who defeated the Mexicans, drove out the Indians, and made Texas a unique part of Western Civilization were the former. It remains to be seen which their descendants will be.