Los Diablos Tejanos

A Texas Ranger, it was famously claimed, “can ride like a Mexican, trail like an Indian, shoot like a Tennessean, and fight like a very devil.”   These days, such a bland presumption of ethnic attributes would merit a visit from the Sensitivity Police, and even respect for martial skills verges on political incorrectness, since progressive Americans must tolerate such skills, if at all, only among those deemed military or police “professionals.”  The early Ranger, as Robert M. Utley reveals, fits into neither category of specialist.

Utley, the premier historian of our military frontier, somehow neglects to quote the famous description of Ranger prowess.  But he has no truck with p.c. and refreshingly meets “challenges of nomenclature” by noting that blacks “will be called blacks, not African Americans,”  while logically terming “Mexicans” all those, north or south of the border, called such by white Texans.  His apologetic, convenient use of  the term “Anglo” for such whites, regardless of ethnicity, is less historical, and, as he admits, the very title Lone Star Justice misleads; until 1874, Texas Rangers were citizen soldiers—sporadically mobilized, given such formal titles as “mounted riflemen,” and defining “a tradition rather than an institution.”  Only after the Civil War did...

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