Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The flap over casinos and legalized gambling has a very dark side to it. Among the quotes we see bandied over the print media and TV ads, there are such sentences as “Isn’t that [going to Mississippi Indian-run casinos] what Gov. Riley and [former anti-gambling task force head] David Barber want us to do?” and “We’ve got to make sure Alabama law is enforced before we can deal with the Indians” (Todd Stacy, press secretary to Gov. Riley, emphasis added in both citations).

So the bottom line is the issue of the Indians, as it seems. This is sad to the point of being pathetic.

Wrapped in the mantle of self-righteous ‘anti-gambling moralism,’ we find pretty well the same sentiments that fueled the notion of ‘Manifest Destiny’ in the 19th century: we’re here, so it’s our right to take what we want from whomever we want, from coast to coast.

But why should “the Indians” be such a target of resentment? Perhaps history is its own answer here. How many treaties did the Native Americans make with our government, only to have them broken when they were inconvenient for us to honor? One might read, as only one example, the history of the events leading up to the battle of Little Big Horn (“Custer’s Last Stand”) to answer this question.

The various tribes of Native Americans still here have been relegated to Federal ‘reservations’ (read: the equivalent of the old South African ‘homelands’). It is a shameful admission (in the dark) of the land-based equivalent of piracy inflicted on these people. Relegated to life-boats, they are now being vilified for surviving there as they can, and others are being condemned for actions that might support them.

Even though much of the Catholic Church in America was built on Bingo, I am no great fan of gambling. I would never go to a casino, myself (I’m far too cheap, personally). But insofar as virtually all rights and possessions have already been taken from these tribes, it seems to me they should have every right to do whatever they choose to earn income, and the States should properly have absolutely no say in the matter (frankly, neither should the Federal Government, but that’s another issue).

To oppose competition to the reservation casinos within the State is indeed a moral issue, and people should face this fact straight-on. The morality is based on whether or not to allow a beaten-down people to have something unique without a self-righteous (and self-serving) “Big Brother” telling them what they should or should not be doing (or at least, not doing alone).

The issue of gambling sites other than on reservations may be a political issue. Let’s not pretend that there is not a dimension of racism involved in the way the issue is being approached.

Anyone interested in a somewhat expanded version of this post can check the Op-Ed section of The Mobile Press-Register for this past Sunday, 2-7-10, where it was printed.


  1. Dear Fr.,
    Thank You for unveiling or exposing the darkness regarding this issue. It seems that there are (too many)in high places that are masters of spin, and illusion, via smoke and mirrors, whereby truth is distorted, or lies are made palateable (is this a word?), or acceptable. I personally admire those willing to take a stand, especially taking a stand for what is right and moral, even when it counters popular culture. Again, Thank You and I pray that others will also take a stand for what is always and everywhere right/(for Truth).

  2. In this great country, there exists a group of people, native Indians, who live on reservations in wretched housing, poor transportation, extreme weather conditions, inadequate food and hygiene, rampant alcoholism and diseases. Catholic priests have been working, usually singularly, to change this environment. Of particular emphasis is the education of the children to help them upgrade their lives. These missionaries, who choose to spend their lives with the natives, rely mainly on private donations. Occasionally, and in more recent years, some of the natives remove themselves from this environment to initiate new financial opportunities, such as casinos, jewelry and clothing sales, etc. Let their successes continue, unhampered. They are employing the 'American Way' without the help of our government.