Comparing the Texas Rangers to the Washington Redskins is nonsense—and not just because one is baseball and the other is football.
Even before the Washington Redskins elected to change their name, the Texas Rangers baseball team had come under increasing scrutiny. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune referred to the Rangers moniker, which refers to the storied law enforcement agency, as “an affront to Hispanics, African-Americans and anyone who favors racial equity,” while Washington Post editor Karen Attiah claimed that the Rangers are “not so far off from being called the Texas Klansmen.”
My family has a long history with the real Texas Rangers—the law enforcement agency. My great-great uncle, General Francisco Coss Ramos, was chased by them (more on that in a moment). Yet later generations of my family, like other Texans, have been protected by the Texas Rangers.
The term “redskin” has a long history of negative connotations, most importantly as a racial slur. The Rangers, on the other hand, are considered the elite of the elite of law enforcement officers in Texas. They are responsible for border security, combating gang violence, investigating misconduct and corruption by our public officials.
My great-great uncle, Gen. Ramos, was a prominent Mexican revolutionary during the early 20th century. He was a member of the left-anarchist Mexican Liberal Party, which led to his exile from Mexico in 1906 after the failure of one of many Magonista rebellions.
He was chased into the United States by agents of Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, and was followed by the Texas Rangers thereafter, not reaching safety until he made it north. My great-great grandfather, Gen. Ramos’ cousin, would smuggle him food and information across the border, careful to avoid detection by the Rangers or other government agencies hunting him.
The general would eventually return to Mexico as the provisional governor of three provinces, but he found himself hunted again after the failure of the Delahuertista Rebellion in 1923, and my ancestors were again caught in the crossfires of his exile.
Where did my family find peace? Many of us found it in Texas, which was tamed—in part—by those Texas Rangers.
Cancel culture does not seek to tell a nuanced version of history or hold individuals who have committed despicable actions accountable. Instead, it deprives society of its heroes and writes an entirely different narrative. It reduces the long and complicated history of the Rangers to the label of “racist.” As Bari Weiss emphasizes in her eloquent resignation letter from the New York Times, cancel culture is so committed to its own righteousness that it stamps out any notions of dissent or nuance.
Cancel culture would ignore the stories of men like Frank Hamer, who saved the agency from the violence and corruption of the Mexican Revolution, apprehended the Bonnie and Clyde duo, and launched a war against the Ku Klux Klan, risking his own life to save as many as 15 people from being lynched.
It would ignore men like Capt. Manuel Gonzaullas, who was instrumental in re-establishing the agency as a modern police force in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Later in life, he also served as a consultant for Hollywood productions depicting the Rangers.
It would ignore the advances the Texas Rangers made in criminal investigation and forensic science, laying the foundation for the modern laboratory system. In the 1930s, the Rangers had one of the most important forensic labs in the country, second only to the FBI.
The mystique and legend of the Texas Rangers does not exist in a vacuum; it is woven deeply, for better and for worse, in the story of Texas, and the name of the baseball team acts as recognition of that importance.
My own family’s history with the Texas Ranger is long and complex, but that takes nothing away from the brave lawmen that the baseball team seeks to honor. If anyone should have a problem with the Rangers moniker, it should be me. I say keep the name (but maybe fix the pitching).