Sunday, June 10, 2012

Who Owns the Past?

This question has vexed me for quite some time - who does own the past?  He who gets to tell the narrative gets to do more than simply tell a narrative.

And then, in what felt like perfect pitch irony of happenstance on my front deck yesterday, New York Times Book Review in hand, I saw Lloyd Grove expound on the subject of Gail Collins and her new book about the Lone Star state, As Texas Goes ...

History, of course, is written by the victor.  In the case of Texas, the unexpected victor of tomorrow will be anointed by the demographic shifts away from a majority white population.  What will it mean when Hispanics re-interpret the Anglo lore about the Alamo? 

Rosie Castro has already told us.  Grove notes that she grew up learning "that the 'heroes' of the Alamo were a bunch of drunks and crooks and slave-holding imperialists who conquered land that didn't belong to them."

And yet the best in all of this was truly saved for last, a cosmic alignment of sorts. Grove ends by quoting the master, as if in answer to the burning nub of my question: "As George Orwell noted in a different context, 'Who controls the past controls the future.'"