AUSTIN, Texas — A promotional event for a book titled Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth at the Bullock Texas State History Museum on Thursday was canceled 3.5 hours before it was scheduled to begin after complaints from Republican leaders, according to a report from The Texas Tribune.
The book dives into the history of the Battle of the Alamo, and how commonly known stories related to the historic battle may be more "fantasy" than fact.
"Just as the site of the Alamo was left in ruins for decades, its story was forgotten and 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," a synopsis for the book states. "Forget the Alamo provocatively explains the true story of the battle against the backdrop of Texas’s struggle for independence, then shows how the sausage of myth got made in the Jim Crow South of the late 19th and early 20th century. As uncomfortable as it may be to hear for some, celebrating the Alamo has long had an echo of celebrating whiteness."
The Tribune reports that the book's authors and publisher have claimed the cancellation of the event, which had 300 RSVPs, is censorship. The Tribune also reported that Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick were apparently among the leaders pushing to scrap the event.
"As a member of the Preservation Board, I told staff to cancel this event as soon as I found out about it. Like efforts to move the Cenotaph, which I also stopped, this fact-free rewriting of TX history has no place," Patrick wrote on Twitter.
According to Bullock Museum Director Margaret Koch, the "Craft of Writing" virtual event around the book was a joint event between the museum and the Writers' League of Texas. However, Koch said the museum's role was "primarily that of co-host.
"Although the Bullock withdrew from the event and notified the 198 pre-registered participants, the Writers’ League of Texas was prepared to continue the event on their own platform and gave the book's authors the opportunity to do so," she said. "The authors declined to continue, and because they did so, the Writers’ League of Texas canceled the event."
The book was authored by Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford.
Tomlinson responded on Twitter, stating, "Lt. Gov, Dan Patrick takes credit for oppressing free speech and policing thought in Texas. [The Bullock Museum] proves it is a propaganda outlet. As for his fact-free comment, well, a dozen people professional historians disagree."
Local Austin bookstore BookPeople also responded to the controversy on Twitter, stating, "We heard about the ‘Forget the Alamo’ drama (*cough* Dan Patrick & friends *cough*). This is where your indie bookstores and local libraries come in clutch. Pick up your copy from us and learn something new."
All three authors are expected to visit BookPeople later this month to sign copies, the store said.
The cancellation comes as Texas lawmakers have debated the topic of "critical race theory" in the Texas legislature, recently passing and signing a bill limiting how topics such as racism can be taught in schools.
According to an event page for the "Craft of Writing" event, its goal was to explore the craft of writing through the book. It was set to feature authors Burrough and Tomlinson, as well as Writers' League of Texas Executive Director Becka Oliver.
“Our understanding of history changes over time as the historical record is revealed through new research and insight, but our relationship to history remains complex and often very personal," wrote Koch on the event page. "This program explores the world of writing about our past through the eyes of Texas authors wishing to reveal that complexity.”
KVUE has reached out to publisher Penguin Random House and Gov. Abbott for a statement. This story will be updated if received.
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