Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Art Imitates Blog

Thanks to the technological wizardry of the DVR, I was able to catch an episode of CSI: NY that I had inexplicably missed when it aired originally. Inexplicably because the entire episode revolved around an obscure but federally recognized East Coast Native American tribe, questionable Land into Trust acquisitions, and a little subject I just happened to bring to your attention two years ago on this very blog - sovereign nation internet gambling server farms.

Server farms, unlike mega resort casinos, I pointed out, can rake in millions of dollars in the space of a small warehouse. And, thanks to their tiny footprint and austere requirements, nary a tree needs to fall, nor an endangered species be pushed closer to oblivion in order to accommodate them.

Of course, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribal leadership inexplicably continues to pursue an edifice to greed, in a town they don't live in, despite an economic downturn, a Supreme Court decision, and common sense. No, they want the stained glass waterfall. They want to meet Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse and show up at conventions wearing expensive nouveau tribal haute couture, comparing casino sizes with the other tribes. "Ha Ha! Mine's bigger than yours!"

And they're not going to let a little addiction, crime and environmental devastation stand in their way.

But back to CSI: NY... upon discovering the server farm on a sliver of sovereign property, one member of the CIS team wonders out loud why their chairman, who "was all about preserving the integrity of his tribe" would engage in gambling operations.

The ensuing gag-inducing response, uttered by an actor playing an African American doctor no less, was as follows.
Yeah, but why not? Even if running gambling operations were hard for him to swallow at first, in this day and age, it can go a long way in promoting pride, especially prosperity, for all kinds of Native Americans.
Jeekers. I don't even know where to start with this.

Hard to swallow?
As in, 'yeah, so what, you have principles, now get over it, there's big money involved!'

In this day and age? Meaning, 'in this age of titanic ponzi schemes, wall street avarice and predatory mortgage lending, are values really all that important anymore?'

All kinds of Native Americans? What, like fat ones? Skinny ones? Real ones? Fake ones?

And, in light of the fact that some TV writer thought these words were best uttered by an African American, I'm trying to imagine what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say, had the U.S. government said to him, "hey doc, instead of all this marching and peaceful demonstrating and content of your character stuff, why don't all you black folks move onto this big stretch of land, we'll call it a 'reservation' for lack of a better term, and that can be your country, and the rest of it will be our country, and you can have casinos to give you pride and prosperity, and that will make us all equal and we can pretend that whole slavery thing never happened. Whaddaya say??"

Hey, speaking of the U.S. government, here's something I bet you don't know. The United States once had a Native American vice president.

Yup, it's true. From 1929 to 1933, Charles Curtis served as vice president to Herbert Hoover. Curtis, who spent his childhood on a reservation, went on to serve several terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and also in the Senate, including terms as both Senate Majority Leader and Whip. Time magazine featured him on it's December 1926 cover. Curtis, who is noted for proposing the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment, left office just in time not only for the depths of the Great Depression, but also for the Indian Reorganization Act.

And there's never been another Native American VP since.

But then, why reach for the stars, when all that glitters, is gold?

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