Magazine article The Spectator

Remember the Alamo

Magazine article The Spectator

Remember the Alamo

Article excerpt

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 importantly 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, 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 when 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 Taylor 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 WMDs 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 Anna are there, the same guns that were turned against the gallant defendants once the Federales had overrun the outer walls. …

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