The contentious relationship between Americo Paredes and Walter Prescott Webb is worth highlighting the in Leticia M. Garza-Falcon’s second chapter of her novel, Gente Decente. While the latter describes the plights of the Texas Rangers who were predominately Anglo-Americans as heroic and noble, Paredes provides the perspective of someone from the “other” – the other being persecuted by the rangers and sought out as the villain in the binary. In contemporary America, where more and more “others’” are turning into hashtags, its important to keep in mind the perspective and accounts of those being killed by ‘law enforcement’.
In his article “The Anglo-American in Mexican Folklore”, Americo Paredes describes the relationships Mexicans had with the Texas Rangers, and how that relationship is represented in folklore. Paredes describes an “Open hostility ward the Anglo-American…clearly expressed in the heroic corrido” where the “formidable foe… [who is] Faceless and nameless [and] is more of an idea than a man…” (Paredes 115). He is speaking to the relationship between Mexicans at the time and their view of the Texas Rangers. The Anglo-American is represented in this corridos usually as the “Major Sheriff or the Chief” and “will run when the battle goes against him, he always attacks in large numbers [and] he is capable of cruelty and treachery” (115). This combative relationship extends to Paredes novel, “With His Pistol in His Hand”: A Border Ballad and Its Hero where he explores the narrative of Gregorio Cortez and his rise to fame. Despite the Anglo-American winning “because [of their] …great numbers” Gregorio Cortez outruns and outguns them. Paredes, through his examination of folktales and folklore offers a different perspective between Mexicans and Anglo-Americans.
In the second chapter of her novel, Leticia M. Garza-Falcon extrapolates Webb’s romanticizing of the Anglo-Americans on the land in Texas. Webb’s complete fantasizing of the times is evident in the section “Webb’s Great Plains & the Texas Rangers” and is full of what Garza-Falcon describes as “romanticizing rhetoric” where he uplifts the image of the “first real men”, those who fought Indians and hunted buffalos (44). The great plains that Webb describes in his poetry and fiction, at times prove harsh for these great powerful Anglo-Americans, but Garza-Falcon describes the ridiculous Webb’s rhetoric in two lines: “Though the frontiersmen did not anticipate the particularly harsh terrain of the Great Plains, their hard work and natural superiority will inevitably help them overcome all obstacles. Unlike the Indians, Spaniards, and Mexicans before them, these superior men have no need for an inheritance… their claims are granted to them directly from ‘the hand of god’” (45). Webb’s “Anglo American heroes [are constructed in such a way that] the Plain Indians [are] the ‘other’” and ultimately the binary opposite to his good. Garza-Falcon’s argument against Webb falls right in with Paredes’ analysis of the Anglo-American from the Great Plains and with the Texas Rangers as an opposite perspective of the times.
While Americo Paredes and Leticia M. Garza-Falcon dismantle the one sided, romantic perspective, is important to stay critical and hear the voices and perspectives from the “others”. In modern day, when asking for roadside assistance is more likely to result in manslaughter charges for an officer, it is not only important to view dash-cam footage from law enforcement’s perspective, but absolutely necessary to hear witness statements of those stopped, any and all videos and photos, and audio evidence. At all times it is important to remain critical and vigilant to the media that is being presented and the stories – not just the fantasized, or one sided ones – being told.
Garza-Falcón, Leticia M. “Walter Prescott Webb’s “The Great Plains” and “The Texas Rangers” Dissolution of History in Narrative.” Gente Decente: A Borderlands Response to the Rhetoric of Dominance. 1st ed. Austin: U of Texas, 1998. 36-73. Print.
Ferdnandez, Manny. “Tulsa Officer Charged in Fatal Shooting of Black Driver.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 26 Sept. 2016.
Paredes, Americo. “The Anglo-American in Mexican Folklore.” New Voices in American Studies (1966): 113-27. (Book, 1966) [WorldCat.org]. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Studies, 12 May 2016. Web. 26 Sept. 2016.