AUSTIN (KXAN) — With mere hours to go before a scheduled book event on Thursday, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in downtown Austin removed itself from a discussion on a controversial new book that re-examines the narrative around Texas’ iconic Alamo landmark.
“Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth,” was released earlier this year and attempts to present the “truth” around what happened at The Alamo and those viewed as heroes for the battle. Especially given a critical eye are Texas’ legends James Bowie and William Barret Travis.
Authors Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford argue they’re not asking people to “forget” the Alamo, but to understand the full truth of the bloody battle: namely that it was fought in large part to preserve slavery but is historically recounted as a “heroic Anglo narrative.”
The Bullock Museum was set to talk to the book’s authors but announced at around 4 p.m., San Antonio Express-News reports. The museum cited concerns from its board of directors, which includes conservative state lawmakers Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan.
“As a member of the Preservation Board, I told staff to cancel this event as soon as I found out about it,” Patrick responded 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.”
Co-author Tomlinson responded to the cancellation, saying: “I think we’re being censored, which is a shame, because the mission of the Texas history museum is to promote examining our past. We’ve done more than a dozen events, and this is the first time we’ve been shut down like this.”
In an interview with KXAN Tomlinson expanded: “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.”
Despite its criticism, “Forget the Alamo,” has been lauded by several historical writers, in addition to The New York Times, Houston Chronicle and Wall Street Journal.
San Antonio Express-News reached out to Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick, but have not yet heard back.
The event’s cancelation comes hot on the heels of ongoing debate nationwide over the alleged teaching of critical race theory in America’s 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. A Harvard analysis explains CRT aims to aid white people in identifying their own biases and privilege, while giving people of color understanding of how they’ve been systemically disenfranchised.
Texas lawmakers have zeroed in on alleged teaching of critical race theory, with Abbott saying might go further in a special session starting next week.
Kevin Roberts, CEO of the conservative policy thinktank The Texas Public Policy Foundation, expressed his displeasure for the “Forget the Alamo” event — which he previously called “trashy non-history” — by tweeting: “Sounds like progress to me. Revisionist history is fiction, and should be treated as such.”
Others online expressed their displeasure with the museum’s choice to remove itself. One such tweet reads, “Bob Bullock would be ashamed that the board of his namesake museum is too chickens**t to come to terms with the truth.”
The Bullock Museum previously said the event was meant to spark conversation and re-examine history.
“I think the nature of the Bullock Museum has permanently changed,” Tomlinson said.