Canceled ‘Forget the Alamo’ book event ignites criticism at Texas GOP lawmakers behind it

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SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 18: A general view of atmosphere as HISTORY celebrates the epic new miniseries “Texas Rising” with “Texas Honors” event at the Alamo on May 18, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for HISTORY)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 416-page book released just a month ago is causing waves in Texas and beyond.

Texas-sized drama over Penguin Random House’s “Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of An American Myth,” began Friday, after the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin pulled out of a discussion of the book just hours before it was set to begin.

The museum explained its board of directors, which includes conservative state lawmakers Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, were behind the decision to shut down the discussion, which had a reported 300 RSVPs.

Later Friday, Patrick publicly credited himself with stopping the event, which explored the book’s re-examination of the historic narrative around the Battle of the Alamo — most notably how its heroes weren’t necessarily “good guys” and that preservation of slavery was a motivating factor for the fight against Mexico.

“As a member of the Preservation Board, I told staff to cancel this event as soon as I found out about it,” Patrick wrote in a tweet on Friday. “Like efforts to move the Cenotaph, which I also stopped, this fact-free rewriting of TX history has no place at the Bob Bullock Museum.”

“Forget the Alamo” authors Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford argue they’re not promoting forgetting the San Antonio landmark and its battle, but for Americans to contextualize what really happened and how, including how the story became a story about heroic white people.

Penguin Random House says the book explores how the story has gotten “twisted” over time, “with the contributions of Tejanos–Texans of Mexican origin, who fought alongside the Anglo rebels–scrubbed from the record, and the origin of the conflict over Mexico’s push to abolish slavery papered over.”

In a statement, the publisher explained that the Bullock Museum was facing heavy pressure on social media over the event, in addition to pressure from its board, with “Gov. Abbott being one of them,” Texas Tribune reports.

In a Friday interview with KXAN, Tomlinson explained:

“I think it is politics, and I think they’re distorting what critical race theory means the same way they distorted political correctness and multiculturalism in the past. It’s just another piece of propaganda.”

Chris Tomlinson, author

As of Saturday, Gov. Abbott has not responded to requests for comment.

“I think the nature of the Bullock Museum has permanently changed,” Tomlinson added.

National reaction

Across the country, Texas Republicans — particularly Patrick — were pointed out for what some say is hypocrisy and authoritarianism.

“To know why Texas GOP is working so hard to kill the well-researched book on The Alamo and how its story morphed into myth, read the description. It involves slavery, racism and lots of other uglies the GOP pretends never existed,” wrote New York Times bestselling author Kurt Eichenwald.

Many people pointed out the apparent hypocrisy over “cancel culture,” a GOP talking point regarding the trend of people and content being publicly censored, banned or “canceled” from appearances and opportunities due to their behavior or statements.

Journalist Judd Legum called out Patrick directly, saying “Noted opponent of “cancel culture” uses his political position to cancel a discussion of a history book about the Alamo.”

The event’s cancelation comes amid an ongoing debate over the alleged teaching of critical race theory in public schools — despite the high unlikelihood of ever encountering the doctrines outside of a law school, where they originated. CRT, while not a singular set of lesson plans, examines the history of the U.S. and its inequitable legal treatment of Black and brown Americans.

Texas lawmakers have zeroed in on alleged teaching of critical race theory, with Abbott saying they might go further in a special session starting soon.

Meanwhile, conversation over “Forget the Alamo” continues nationally as authors, publishers and supporters continue advancing its mission — pun not intended.

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