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United States: The War with Mexico



     The Good Neighbor Policy goes against nature. People and nations usually have problems with neighbors, and prefer others whom distance keeps apart. Thus Ecuador hates Peru but quite likes Argentina and Chile. Likewise Mexicans resent Texas, which strangely has developed ties with Brazil. As reported in an earlier posting, Brazilians have gone crazy over Texas cowboys and rodeos. Today's TV had a long section on well-to-do Brazilians buying expensive Texas-style hats and clothing, and admiring themselves in a mirror. Excellent business for the merchants, but another indication of the gap between Brazilian rich and poor. The message seems to be : We are both bigger, more powerful and richer than the Spanish American countries. We are the big two."
     Mexican resentment of Texas goes back to the U,S,-Mexican War. It is the subject of a movie called "The Texas Rangers." The theme is that they won the war with their reckless courage. Without them the United States would have lost. They were crazy and ruthless. Even the American military leader, "rough and ready" Zachary Taylor, detested them. The Mexicans called them "los diablos tejanos"--the Texan devils. Even today the Texas Rangers are state heroes.
     Lance Hool's movie about the St. Patrick Brigade provoked a sharp exchange among WAISers. Tim Brown pointed out the Texans were very bitter about the Alamo, to which Jason Hool replied that this was ten yars earlier. Hatred has a long life, and "The Texas Rangers" pointed out that a burning determination to avenge the Alamo fired the Texans.
     WAISer Lance Hool has produced "One Man's Hero", soon to be released by MGM. Here is the essence of the story:
     "The story of the Saint Patrick Battalion, which fought with Mexico in the war against America in the middle of the last century, is a footnote to history almost totally ignored in the United States. But it's a compelling story that has almost made its way to the big screen several times. Now it has rish emigrants fleeing the potato famine were promised U.S. citizenship if they joined the army. Not only was the promise broken but the soldiers faced discrimination because of their Catholic religion. When the U.S. declared war against Mexico to seize territory some Irish soldiers deserted and went over to the Mexican side. When Mexico lost many were executed for treason."
     There must be many movies about the U.S.-Mexican war and the Texas Rangers. A comparison among the different American and Mexican films would provide an excellent example of history as seen from different viewpoints. As Henry Breitrose, who directs the TV program in Stanford's Department of Communication, points out, in movies drama always wins out over historical truth. More people learn their history from movies than from books.

Ronald Hilton - 09/05/99


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