Class Discussion

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

So after class today, I thought about our discussion on glorifying Texas history and how it effects our education at school. At first glance, I sort of brushed this issue aside, this is because I thought that the Texas history we learned about, no matter how false/stretched it is, is the identity that Texans embrace. However, the more I thought about this idea of embracing something that we know is false, I strayed further and further from this apathy and began to care a little more. It is not right for people to believe in something just because it is the way they want to perceive it that way. One must believe in things because they  have reasons to believe that they are true. Then I started to think about the influence that this teaching has had on me, and continues to have on all Texas Students. Students continue to learn about Texas history from a white man’s glorified Texas perspective. The problem with this is that this perspective is far from being truthful. If we continue along this educational path, we will only work towards spreading ignorance and twisting history according to our own perverse desires. But why would people invest time into this when they have more important things to consider? Well, my response to that is that anyone who values education and knowledge should look to provide the best opportunities for our children (and ourselves) to learn what really happened in historic venues such as The Alamo, or Colonel Mustard’s Last Stand or even things that we like to sweep under the rug, like our cruelty towards Native Americans. The knowledge they gain from these truer accounts may not always be heroic, but at least it is accurate and really happened. Either way, students will have the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from the mistakes of others through history, rather than learning about something just because it is  a good story.

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Ignorance can be bliss

April 26, 2011 1 comment

I’m a native Texan, and I adore this state. Now I know it isn’t without its flaws, but every state has that secret past they like to ignore a little. The nation as a whole doesn’t like to talk about the whole Native American genocide issue. But I digress.

Growing up in Austin, I’ve spent many a field trip wandering around the Capitol and other State buildings. And since my dad has worked at the Capitol for many years, I’ve seen it a lot. This includes the multiple paintings hanging around the House and Senate. Growing up, I never looked at them and saw the racial issues that we observed today. What I remember being told is how the painter (mostly the same guy) included a cocker spaniel in every painting. My Texas history classes also weren’t the best, either. The Civil War was our ending point, if we ever got there. But I was lucky enough to have parents who were able to explain the truth behind a lot of the myths of Texas Independence.

I think this coincides with one of the things Ms. Phiffer spoke about in the interview. People might touch on the subject, but if it isn’t spoon fed to them, they’ll wonder why it’s important, why they should bother. Because the Texas Board of Education doesn’t seem to have any idea of what is important in schools, certain things are skimmed over. Also, sometimes we don’t have the best teachers either. I went to what I would consider pretty great schools, but sometimes you just get stuck with a horrid teacher. Forcing them to teach around the TAKS tests don’t help much, either.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes, people need to take the initiative to learn more, to uncover what some sweep under the rug, to pressure the State to take down paintings that portray incorrect history. It’s sad when they don’t, but we have the power to slip some of this information in to their lives.

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Reality vs. Intent

April 26, 2011 1 comment

Today in class we were discussing the problems with displaying artwork, which may shed a racist light on certain historical events, in places that are state sponsored such as the Governor’s Mansion or the Capitol. While I can understand, and appreciate these sentiments, the conversation raised several questions in my mind; which is more important, the actual meaning of a symbol or piece of artwork, or the publicly accepted  meaning of the symbol or artwork? What I mean is that I do not believe the people of Texas to be overwhelmingly and knowingly racist and I do not believe that the general public perceives these pieces of artwork, such as the pieces we viewed today, to have blatant racist themes. I understand that ignorance of a problem or situation does not constitute an adequate argument for the perpetuation of such a problem or situation, but at the same time where does intent fit into this debate? If the government of the state of Texas puts up a piece of artwork in the Capitol, but does not intend for that artwork to symbolize a support of racist feelings or actions, does the act of simply supporting the artwork constitute the perpetuation of racial violence? Every nation or state has to have symbols which provide a sense of nationalism, and unite the people under a certain ideological purpose. While certain symbols that have been adopted throughout our history may have a tainted past, if this past has been rewritten (even in a mythological manner) does the reality of their symbolism really matter? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but I thought it was an interesting point of discussion.

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Annoyance

April 26, 2011 3 comments

I found a blog, which though not especially noteworthy or different from countless other postings on the internet, especially annoyed me for some reason. It’s apparently from “The simple theory and rantings of a girl from Texas.”  Her blog claims that she is a native Texan and as her profile states: “I thought at first to wipe the spit from my conservative boots, but then I decided to shine my shoes. My thoughts and values tied so deeply to morals that are pure and rich; values that no amount of spit can tarnish.”

It would really be nice if these people that claim to have such strong morals actually understood what they were talking about, and the history behind their focus before they decide to lay claim about “heros such as James Bowie, David Crockett, and William B. Travis.”

While I don’t think this girl is an anomaly or particularly malicious, this is a trend that seems to occur so very often when people have a soapbox to stand on, and the ability to put their words all over the world. Ignorance is really what I’m trying to get at here, or rather the prevalence of it.

http://texastalkandtheory.blogspot.com/2005/11/remember-goliad-remember-alamo.html

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Alamo Stuff and Personal Reflection

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Here is an objective discussion about the tricky line between fact and fiction regarding the history of the Alamo as it is represented across different recreations in film.  The most recent “Alamo” movie (2004) is discussed as being the most “accurate” or “reliable” of the films preceding it in several different aspects of the history.  These include the controversial representation of Davy Crockett’s death and Sam Houston’s alcoholism being present in the film.  It also includes a few mentions of critics to these movies, including the 2004 version.  I have not seen most of these, but I trust that there is A LOT that critics have to say about the authenticity of the films.  I also trust that if achieving true authenticity in cinema representations of history is the goal for the majority, then we have a few more adaptations of “The Alamo” to make before we can reach that goal, if it is possible to reach that goal.

http://mercurie.blogspot.com/2009/09/two-movies-about-alamo.html

Also, just some final thoughts for this last blog: The “Paintbrush” reading has shed some more light on the relationship between history and progression being so “firmly intertwined” that I have realized a personal value from it.  It seems as though most of the time that people will look back on the past and say, “yeah that was terrible how that was then, but we are not like that anymore.  We’re an improved society that is completely exceptional of those old dynamics.  We are more this and less that,” and whatever else makes it sound like people are closer to being a more “perfect” society.  Forgetting that any given society is not perfect and failing to notice that people ARE affected by history brings about a festering of issues that are not confronted and are instead treated as confusing things that are difficult to understand thus are feared.  It does not seem people fail to notice these things on purpose, they are just shrouded by the misrepresentations and/or withholdings of historical facts.  So maybe progression could be better used as a way of working toward honesty and preserving the truth of our history as it is happening now as to better prevent negative results of socialization that is so heavily influenced by the way history is depicted and represented.  In the “Paintbrush” reading, the author mentions pieces of their childhood that they did not realize had directly affected their perceptions on other races in later years: “I began to understand and to resent how deeply my socialization had affected my unconscious” (13).  This testimony speaks to me personally in a way that causes me to look at myself and how my unconscious has been so deeply affected by the socialization happening around me.  Perhaps it is difficult to shake such deeply instilled perceptions, but I would like to think that it would be less difficult to begin at the way socialization occurs as a means for such awareness.

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Alamo Opinions

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/20/entertainment/la-et-fess-disney20-2010mar20

The link above is to the Alamo opinion I found online, I definitely encouraging reading. It’s both sad and funny in its explanation of the Davy Crockett phenomenon. When I first found this article I expected the author to debunk myths of the Alamo and Davy Crockett because his argument leans that way at first. I was sorely disappointed.
Gabler describes the fame of and attraction to Davy Crockett as a result of the Disney film, something we’ve seen before in our readings. But he then goes on to say that “even Parker (the actor playing Crockett in the Disney film) understood that Davy Crockett wasn’t just manufactured by mass culture. It struck a much deeper chord in the American psyche” without any real explanation as to how. Where Gabler began describing the Disney motivation for the film and supplementing with statistics and interesting factoids, when Crockett’s reputation is on the line he abandons this academic language and fervently claims that Crockett was an “example […] of American self-confidence” despite using only sweeping statements about Crockett’s stereotyped personality. “He was courageous, resolute, plain-spoken, common sense, transparent — the perfect American to contrast with our wily Soviet enemies”- uh what? The article quickly winds down after this, having made it’s point that, sure, Disney hyped up Davy Crockett but only because he was a deserving hero.
Not only does Gabler have a selective memory about details of Crockett’s life, he also seems to have deluded himself into seeing Fess Parker as Davy Crockett. The author somehow transfers his admiration of the actor to the hero, admitting “he [Parker] so successfully personified these American heroes that it is now impossible to think about them without also thinking about him.” Gabler even describes how his admiration of Davy Crockett was dependent on the movie portrayal; “[Parker’s] Crockett was kind, temperate, sensitive, tolerant — less an Indian fighter in the Wayne mold than an Indian mediator.” Clearly Gabler must see that the media has controlled and manipulated the image of Crockett but for some reason this does not lead him to question his faith in Crockett. This piece seems a real example of the power of icons, media, and fetishized images like that of the heroic Crockett.

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Blog 16

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Hi there! I found this article about The Alamo, which, like most other websites, sells the battle as an honorable and treacherous struggle for freedom. It’s a websites for tourists looking to explore San Antonio, so the website goes into great detail, accounting all thirteen days, one by one including even the times at which men arrived, fire opened, etc.

http://www.alamocity.com/alamo/

It’s funny that if you type “The Alamo” into google, only positive accounts come up. I honestly searched for negative accounts of the battle for ten or fifteen minutes, typing different things into google, but I came up short. I even looked in Mexican articles and translated them from Spanish, but it’s impossible. So if ANYBODY can find information about The Alamo that does not come from flag-waving Texans, please share : )

-Lauren

PS: Super excited about all of the Texas-shaped food.

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