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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Owlkat happy? - Mar 6 (the Alamo, remember?) (13) RE: happy? - Mar 6 (the Alamo, remember?) 07 Mar 06


I know this may provoke hostile responses, but my intention is to analyse, not criticise, and I think contemporary and modern perceptions of the Alamo battle deserve comment.
As a historian, historiographer and researcher, I've found the interpretations of past events can be as interesting and thought-provoking as the actual facts. The case of the romanticising of the battle at the Alamo chapel, is a good example of how history is re-written and re-mythologised. Here, the contra-legal actions of a small band of foreigners, rejecting the sovereignty of a bordered and independant nation (Mexico) forcing a military response, and committing suicide in the resulting pacification have been re-written into folklore, mythology, and woven into America's cultural matrix and consciousness. This is no surprise, since American foreign policy, and for that matter, the policies of most nations of the world have at one time or other, been about destabilisation, domination, and control of other nations long before Admiral Perry forced Japan to open her borders to Western trade at cannonpoint.
As someone who loves learning, I'm as eager to read culturally and socially constructed primary and secondary sources as I am lettered research from both academics and popular historians.
But, it's both disappointing and troubling when anyone's history is re-written to custom-fit political and cultural agendas. When the interests of nationalism re-construct a mythos as factual, the whole point of learning and recording history is set on its ear.
I know very well that no recorded history is objective; it's impossible. Yet, those who consciously ignore the lessons of the past because they contradict contemporary social and cultural imperatives, often realise the consequences of that past. Those who ignore the lessons of the past can repeat them.
To demonstrate that I'm not Yankee-bashing, consider the images of Canada as a warm, friendly, courteous, freely multicultural and accomodating nation where the right of all are respected, and no-one suffers state persecution or abuse of authority. In fact, just like the US, Canada has also been a slave nation, with a history of slave owning, and trade. In the early 19th century after slaves were legislated into freedom, only those who hadn't been born slaves were emancipated. Born slaves remained in bondage for life. Our first nations people, since the 70's, have begun to make their true and terrible histories so public that the church and the state have been forced to acknowledge a more factual past, and to take action on behalf of the survivors. Again, this is new to too many younger Canadians. In history classes at the University of Victoria, faced with a variety of white-washed versions of Canadian history, I've been continually reminded of the power of re-written history to serve the dominant class, and maintain the legitimacy of that class.
The re-weaving of history is only natural; the winners write the books. One should expect no less. But, one can also reach a better understanding of self, identity, and country by familiarising oneself with a more global sense of history, and the roles played by others in it.
Certainly, remember the Alamo and its folklore, and its songs, and even the movie featuring John Wayne. But, you also owe it yourselves, and your country to remember that there is a history of the world that surrounded and permeated it, and to strive to reach some level of understanding the relevance and importance of that history.
Thanks.
Marti.


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