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when anti-Mexican sentiment was so acceptable that it was published as history was a fight against the current. It was counter-history, written when the cattle baron, “who built up [his] fortune at the expense of the Border Mexican by means which were far from ethical,” was considered heroic and venturesome, while the Mexican was reviled as loathsome and subhuman. Webb wrote for a receptive audience, telling them what they wanted to hear, affirming that they were part of the club of the American Dream, with God and destiny on their side. Paredes was not so well received. When With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and its Hero was published, its author was threatened by a former Texas Ranger who wanted to “shoot the sonofabitch who wrote that book,” according to Jose E. Limon. Webb ascended to a position of power and authority at the University of Texas, while Paredes was unable to publish his work unless it was cleansed of negative references to the Texas Rangers. Don Americo didn’t limit his criticism to Walter Prescott Webb and the dominant culture. In 1970, at the height of Chicano nationalism, Paredes told an audience at the University of Texas: “To get some really good [Chicano and Chicana] writers we must have a lot of mediocre ones. And to have many mediocre writers we must begin with many bad works, works groping toward a goal yet to be reached.” By his own account, Paredes was not prepared for the “verbal thunder and lightning,” that came from a generation of young writers who believed that all Chicano literature had to be “an expression of the Chicano soul, of Azdan itself.” Last November, the Mexican government conferred upon him the Order of the Aguila Azteca, the highest award Mexico gives to citizens of other countries. Accepting the award at the University of Texas, where for many years he has been a member of the faculty, Don Americo used the opportunity to speak again on behalf of his people, taking careful aim at the Mexican intellectual community. He began with the Mexican historian Jose Vasconcelos: “Mexicans living on this other side have been around since 1848. And for the better part of this period of almost a century and a half, we Mexican Americans have been object of scorn, of social and economic discrimination of abuses that sometimes have culminated in legally sanctioned murder.” Paredes cited an incident that occurred at Rock Springs on November 4, 1910, when a Texas Mexican, Antonio Rodriguez, was burned alive.Official protest from the Mexican government and public demonstrations “had little effect, perhaps because we Mexican Americans have lacked until very recent times, the moral support of Mexican intellectuals. That is something we have rarely had.” Paredes reminded the audience that “during the second decade of [this] past century, while the rural police of the State of Texas was butchering hundreds of defenseless Mexican peasants in South Texas, Jose Vasconcelos was busy branding us as pochos.” It was the pochos in Texas who provided Vasconcelos sanctuary in San Antonio during the Mexican Revolution, when the political party Vasconcelos belonged to fell apart and he had to flee his own country. And when told about what was happening downriver at Rock Springs, Vasconcelos showed no interest. From Jose Vasconcelos, Paredes proceeded to Octavio Paz, begining with an account of the so-called Pachuco or Zoot-Suit Riots that occurred in Los Angeles in 1943: “Hundreds of members of the U.S. armed forces, assisted by the Los Angeles police, invaded the barrios, savagely beating not only those teenagers wearing the pachuco costume, but every dark-skinned boy they happened upon.” According to Dr. Paredes, while Anglo Americans like Carey McWilliams and Eleanor Roosevelt openly protested, “these violent scenes also had their Mexican commentator, another intellectual. Octavio Paz tells us [in El Laberinto de Soledad] that ‘The pachuco is a clown impassive and sinister who seeks not to make one laugh but to terrify. His sadistic attitude goes hand-in-hand with a wish for self-humiliation … He seeks, he attracts persecution and disorder.’ ” “One could very well think that a member of the Los Angeles Police Department had written those lines,” Paredes said. “[Yet] this `impassive and sinister’ pachuco was an essential stepping stone for the appearance of the ‘Chicano’ among Mexican-American youth, when at last they sound their cry of liberation in the Movimiento Chicano …” Fifty years ago, when he wrote George Washington Gomez, Americo Paredes anticipated that cry of liberation. He has dedicated a career to setting the record straight. Gulf Continued from page 1 1 the Bush Administration seeks to avoid them. Saddam Hussein’s invasion was a tragedy for the Kuwaitis and a disaster for people and governments throughout the Middle East. Nonetheless, his long list of crimes before and after August 2, 1990 will be given relatively little weight when the next generation of Arab historians attempts to make sense of the era. Instead the Gulf crisis will be recalled as the last imperialist war against the Middle East in the 20th Century, and the catalyst for new forms of religious and national resistance. It remains to be seen how historians of America’s post-Cold War era will judge the war, but when the dust finally settles, the view is unlikely to please George Bush. Despite the formidable demonstration of military might, the White House and other managers of our declining fortunes will find that it is not easy to build a new, post-Gulf War Middle East to order. Tish Continued from page 7 duction of the album in his Bloomington, Indiana studio. In the new album McMurtry leaves smalltown Texas. Two songs are cold satires of life in “Candyland,” the American suburbs. “Safe Side” looks at life on both sides of the border and North and West San Antonio. The safe side of the border is the gringo side; on the other side, “when the oilfield’s busted and the peso takes a dive, you’d better stay off of the side streets, if you want to stay alive.” “Safe Side” also looks at Hinojosa’s San Antonio from the perspective of San Antonio’s “pretty people,” who know to stay off the West Side: They hide in sheltered enclaves Up around Olmos Park They’ve got their own policemen So they can stay out way past dark…. Back down in Piedras Negras Children play with dirt We keep our pistols loaded So we won’t get hurt…. No importa a nadie, It’s always been that way Never going to get no different Long as we got our way…. The lyrics are not obscure and nobody’s lost in the rain in Juarez. In Piedras Negras, there are not “a lot of hungry women,” but “a whole lot of hungry people, lookin’ to share your wealth.” McMurtry said he doesn’t write political songs: “I don’t intend it to be criticism. I don’t try to bring any attitude to it. It’s just observations. “I try to write what I see.” Correction In the story, “The Highwayman,” in our March 8 issue, the name given for the representative of the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District was incorrect. He is Austin attorney William Bunch. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23