Texas Lt. Guv Brags About Ordering Cancellation Of Book Talk At State Museum

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaks after Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the reopening of more Texas businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Monday, May 18, 2020. Abbott said that childcare facilities, youth camps, some professional sports, and bars may now begin to fully or partially reopen their facilities as outlined by regulations listed on the Open Texas website. (Lynda M. Gonzalez/The Dallas Morning News Pool)
AUSTIN, TX - MAY 18: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaks after Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the reopening of more Texas businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic at a press conference at the ... AUSTIN, TX - MAY 18: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaks after Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the reopening of more Texas businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Monday, May 18, 2020. Abbott said that childcare facilities, youth camps, some professional sports, and bars may now begin to fully or partially reopen their facilities as outlined by regulations listed on the Open Texas website. (Photo by Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images) MORE LESS
|
July 2, 2021 2:54 p.m.

No cancel culture or censorship to see here! Just a state official bragging about having a book event cancelled because the work in question challenged his beliefs about history. 

Well, okay, maybe a little censorship: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) on Friday openly bragged about ordering the cancellation of a book talk at a state history museum. 

The co-authors of the book “Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth,” were set to discuss their work in an event hosted by the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin on Thursday, but just hours before the event was set to take place, they were told that the museum had backed out under pressure from its board, The Houston Chronicle reported Thursday

The Chronicle noted that the board of directors of The State Preservation Board, which oversees the Bullock Museum as well as the Texas State Capitol and other sites, includes the state’s governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the House, and other Republicans. 

Newsletters
Get TPM in your inbox, twice weekly.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Sure enough, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) claimed credit for the cancellation on Friday.

Patrick wasn’t alone in his grudge against the book, which reexamines the Alamo story: A senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an influential right-wing think tank in the state, wrote that “Forget the Alamo” constituted a “radical reinterpretation of history.” 

The book paints a more complicated picture of the conflict surrounding the Alamo, including the role of slavery in driving it. “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,” reads a description from the book’s publisher.

In a statement to TPM, Museum Director Margaret Koch “The Bullock Museum’s role in the Craft of Writing virtual event, originally planned with the Writers’ League of Texas around the book, Forget the Alamo 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,” Koch added. “The authors declined to continue, and because they did so, the Writers’ League of Texas cancelled the event.”

The book’s three co-authors slammed the event’s cancellation. 

And others pointed out that Patrick and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) have exploited the Republican hysteria over critical race theory — and more broadly over the historical recognition of slavery’s central role in American history — as a potent talking point. 

Abbott last month signed a bill allowing the state government to prescribe additional restrictions on how Texas teachers address current events and the history of racism. 

“This is exactly what I’ve been talking about in the Critical Race Theory debate,” State Rep. Gene Wu (D) wrote of Patrick’s Twitter brag Friday. “Republicans are quietly trying to find backdoor ways to prevent people from discussing ideas and teaching kids things that don’t fit their insane narrative.” 

PEN America, the freedom of expression group, said in a statement that “Any museum shutting down a book talk is worrisome; for a government-affiliated museum where the governor sits on the board to do so should set off alarm bells for anyone who believes in free speech.” 

“If this was indeed an attempt to silence the speakers because they wrote a book that challenges the governor’s preferred historical narrative; it’s censorship, plain and simple,” the statement added.

“As a public institution, the Bullock Museum owes the people of Texas an immediate explanation for the decision to cancel the talk, and a guarantee that it remains committed to presenting a wide range of views and speakers—without subjecting them to an ideological litmus test.”

This post has been updated.

Latest News
Comments are now Members-Only

Non-members are still able to read comments, but will no longer be able to participate. To join the conversation, sign up now and get:

30% Off Annual Prime Membership

TPM strives to build as inclusive a community as financially possible. We offer FREE memberships to those experiencing financial hardship and FREE memberships for students.

View all options
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: