Who controls how Texas history is presented to the world?
If you don’t know the answer right away, don’t worry. You probably won’t know his name, though you may donate money to his organization or his school.
And you may rethink that after reading this.
The man who is Chief Historian at the Texas State Historical Association also holds a nice endowed chair in Texas History at the University of Texas at Austin. His name is Walter Buenger and he presently controls the levers of power.
As Chief Historian, he is the final arbiter of what gets added to and edited out of the Handbook of Texas Online. This resource tops the results of any web search on a basic Texas history topic.
Wikipedia also rises to the top and most Wiki articles rely on Handbook citations. Some are even copied straight from it. So it’s important that we trust the man who controls the quality of information, right?
When a person shows you, openly and unabashedly, what they stand for, you ought to believe them.
You may think that the Alamo represents the heroism of men faced with impossible odds. You may think its fall gave the soldiers of San Jacinto fuel to fight. Walter says you’re dead wrong.
Any time the media needs a credentialed someone to sound off on Texas history, they go to Buenger because he’s a reliable source of talking points. He also occupies the two most visible positions of authority on Texas history.
Yesterday afternoon, USA Today published an article that weakly tried to claim the President’s visit to Alamo, Texas (down on the border) was really about THE Alamo, not the border. Not sure how many muscles they pulled making that stretch but they called upon Buenger and one of his fellow travelers for comment.
And comment they did.
The headline of the article will make you wonder what color the sky is on the author’s planet:
“As Trump visits Alamo, Texas, famed battle is used to ‘commemorate whiteness,’ historians say.” Well, Walter Buenger, the Chief Historian at TSHA, said that.
According to the article, the Summerlee Foundation Chair in Texas History continued:
“It became in some ways a sort of symbol of Anglo-Saxon preeminence,” he said. “The Alamo became this symbol of what it meant to be white.” He goes on to downplay the significance of the Shrine of Texas Liberty to Texans until, of course, we needed it as a “symbol of what it meant to be white.”
Enter Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, another professor of history at the University of Texas. He specializes in Latin American studies, historiography, with some slave trade thrown in for good measure.
Not to be outdone by Professor Buenger, Cañizares-Esguerra claimed that Santa Anna and his troops did not enter Texas to take freedom from the Texians…”but rather to liberate slaves on east Texan plantations.”
He then called the Alamo “the largest statute to the Confederacy in this country.”
The Alamo had almost 2 million visitors in 2019. People of all skin colors from every corner of the globe visit the Alamo. Do these delusional professors believe that tourists from Japan and India are visiting a grand monument to whiteness?
You wouldn’t think the history and book business would be rife with emergencies and, for the most part, it’s not. We have followed the comments of Buenger and his cohort for some time now, and planned to share our findings with you this year.
The ridiculous nature of these comments, made seemingly just for the sake of painting the Alamo saga as a racist farce, though, is what constitutes an emergency to us.
More updates to come in the days and weeks ahead.
God & Texas,
Michelle Haas, Copano Bay Press
PS – Click Here to read the USA Today article so you know I’m not cherry picking or taking these gentlemen out of context.