The latest shots in the Battle of the Alamo are being aimed at an unlikely target — the children’s cable TV network Nickelodeon.
Keepers of the Texas independence shrine in downtown San Antonio are outraged by a Nickelodeon short that said the 1836 battle there was fought so “white farmers could keep their slaves.”
“I think it’s a shame that anybody would take that approach,” said David Stewart, director of the Alamo. “I think it’s an insult to the Mexicans, the Tejanos, who fought for freedom and liberty in the Alamo as part of the defenders. It kind of slaps them in the face to claim that was the reason the battle took place.”
The 50-second-long piece, part of a running series of Nickelodeon shorts called “My Back Yard,” says the dispute over slavery between white settlers and the Mexican government “led up” to the battle.
Despite being warned by respected historian R. Bruce Winders that the description was simplistic and inaccurate, the network ran the piece.
“We recognize that there were several key issues in the Battle of the Alamo and one of them was slavery,” said Mark Lyons, a senior producer for Nick News at Lucky Duck Productions in New York, which contracts for the Viacom Inc.-owned network.
Texas declared independence in 1836 when Mexico’s leader, Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, revoked the existing constitution that allowed white settlement of the nation’s northernmost province.
“The slavery issue was a factor but not the main one,” Winders wrote Nickelodeon prior to the piece airing. “The revolt in Texas started as an effort to restore the Federal Republic under the (Mexican) constitution of 1824, but quickly evolved into a separatist movement.”
About 200 Texan fighters held off thousands of Mexico troops for 13 days until Santa Anna finally crushed them on March 6, 1836. However, the siege gave other Texas units a chance to move east and gather for an ultimately pivotal battle near Houston in April 1836 that secured Texas independence.
Now the Alamo is Texas’ top tourist attraction and one of the most recognizable U.S. landmarks.
The piece ran for about two weeks on Nickelodeon and is not expected to be aired again, Lyons said.