Currently reading Doug J. Swanson’s detailed history of the Texas Rangers, Cult of Glory (a real “myth buster”). Swanson expands on the pronouncement of Maxwell Scott and prints both the legend and the fact.
Two things caused me to stop early in the book and think. The first was in a section devoted to John Salmon Ford, Old Rip (a sobriquet indicting Ford’s prominence as a Texas Ranger who dealt savagely with any person he deemed a bad-guy). Ford attempted to create a slave empire in northern Mexico as a by-product of the Mexican-American War. He failed.
Still, he held hope for a slave empire. In addition to economic arguments, Ford put forth a religious imperative for such dreams and schemes. “The South has the Bible on their side,” he wrote. “If there is any one institution by the Word of God, it is that of slavery. From Genesis to Revelations there is not one word against it, and thousands in favor of it.” He added that Jesus rebuked “every species of sin” but “never raised his voice against the legitimacy” of involuntary servitude. “If slavery is wrong,” he thundered, “the Bible is wrong.”
Who said two wrongs don’t make a right?
But we do not need to cancel the Texas Rangers simply because the reality didn’t match-up with the myth … does it ever? Texas was a slave state and they hated Mexicans, not to mention the thieving savages that stood in the way of the white man [irony]. The Rangers were a part of their environment and their time. The history will remain, but should we honor those individuals and events which today are viewed as wrong or even evil?
From my perspective, removing statues is low-hanging fruit and both reasonable and right. However, if you drill down on any controversial subject there may be no bottom. I’m reasonably sure that there is no subject that does not include embarrassing or dangerous consequences.
Another Texas Ranger Swanson writes about is James H. Callahan. Although brave and ruthless, there is evidence that Callahan planned to pursue, capture, and sell runaway slaves. Although historically this is in line with the formation of much early law enforcement, should it be honored by the citizens of Texas?
Callahan effectively failed in his mission and did little else to enrich his prominence; yet, politics stepped in and a new Texas county was named Callahan in his honor. Knowing Callahan’s views and actions regarding slavery, should we insist the county change its name?
A Republican politician and T…p weasel just added the Democratic Party to a list of things that should be cancelled due to its Nineteenth Century support of slavery. Okay. How about we cancel all white people because of their historical support of slavery?
See how crazy it can get?