The story, and the myth, of the siege of the Alamo may be my favorite chapter in American history. I bet the Alamo isn’t even taught in public schools outside of Texas, which raises too many other issues to tackle here. On February 24, the make-shift garrison of a couple hundred volunteers from all over the States (and some Mexicans too) found themselves surrounded and outnumbered by well-trained Mexican troops under the command of the ruthless dictator Gen. Santa Ana. The reason for the Texas patriots’ stand was to buy time for Sam Houston to organize an army, but it was quickly evident that this was a Thermopylae in the making, with the same likely result. Nonetheless, Alamo commander William Barrett Travis answered Santa Ana’s call for unconditional surrender with shot from the Alamo’s cannon. Later the same day Travis sent out several couriers carrying letters asking, indeed begging for reinforcements. Addressing one of his pleas to “The People of Texas and All Americans in the World,” Travis signed off with “Victory or Death” in a letter many Texans know by heart:
Fellow Citizens & compatriots-
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna – I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man – The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken – I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls – I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch – The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country – Victory or Death.
1.The MacKenzie Fierceton Saga. This weird ethics tale got lost in the shuffle last month, but it is ever-green. University of Pennsylvania student Mackenzie Fierceton saw her Rhodes Scholarship revoked and her master’s degree withheld after allegations surfaced that she was lying about her first-generation low-income status and life in foster care.
Fierceton graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science at the UPenn in 2020, then became one of the 32 Rhodes Scholars chosen from more than 2,300 U.S. students. She was in the process of completing a clinical master’s degree in social work, also at the University of Pennsylvania. She was celebrated as a true up-from-her-bootstraps achiever, a foster kid who got the proverbial brass ring through native talent and hard work. But an anonymous tip was sent to officials at the University of Pennsylvania and Rhodes Trust claiming that Fierceton was “blatantly dishonest in the representation of her childhood.” The tip included photos of Fierceton skydiving, riding a horse and whitewater rafting. The university and Rhodes Trust then started their own investigation. It was discovered that Fierceton attended Whitfield, a private school in St. Louis charging tuition of nearly $30,000 a year. Her mother was a radiologist with a college degree. Other aspects of the student’s account of coming from an impoverished background and abusive parents did not check out either. (The story is far too complicated to cover here. The Chronicle of Higher Education has the whole mind-numbing tale in exquisite detail.
Yes, MacKenzie is suing. (Pointer: Curmie)
2. He really said this. Mitch McConnell, who infamously refused to let the Senate even consider Merrick Garland when President Obama nominated him for the Supreme Court in 2015, told reporters that he expects a confirmation process “Americans can be proud of,” in contrast to the ugly hell Democrats put Justice Kavanaugh through. “We believe a Supreme Court nominee ought to be respectfully treated, thoroughly vetted and then voted upon,” Mitch said. That has to set some kind of record for gall.