1822: O’Reilly: Nanny State Strikes Again Forbidding Alcohol Sales to Indians

Special editorial from former Historical Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly, 1822:

Well, folks, the Nanny State has officially run amuck on our Western Frontier.

Here it is, 1822, and word comes that the U.S. Congress and President James Monroe, in their infinite wisdom, have banned the sale of alcohol to Indians in the Western Territories.

As you may recall, these sales are vital to the welfare of honest, hard-working fur trappers. These trappers rely on the red man’s insatiable thirst for whiskey, which is one of the few inducements that can cause the savages to get out of their wigwams and go hunt beaver pelts.

You would think Congress would want to support these fine, upstanding trappers — small businessmen creating jobs in the wilderness.

But no, Congress has other ideas. Rather than let the trappers and the Indians decide what’s best for them, the Nanny State has to lay out all the rules. Sure, a few Indians get drunk, maybe get swindled, but it’s their life to live, my friend.

President Monroe is the Hypocrite-in-Chief on this issue. He was fine letting Gen. Jackson open kegs of rum for the savages in Florida, to disorient the enemy during the late war, but now that the war is over, he’s suddenly got religion.

Congress’ dictum here is breathtakingly insulting. Our lawmakers clearly think the Indians, and the fur traders who ply them with whiskey, are too stupid to make their own decisions on matters of intoxication. If some Indian Sachem wants to drink until he has to empty his gut into the nearest chunder bucket, and then drink some more, so be it. The man is only exercising the rights the Great Spirit gave him.

Oh, sure, a bunch of do-gooders in Washington say the Indians don’t have the capacity to drink responsibly. Well excuse me: if that were the standard, than half of Congress would be in jail. Bottom line: It’s not the government’s business to tell anyone, white or red, how to handle their gin rickey.

I would argue this ban poses a greater threat to our freedoms than even the savages themselves.

If government can tell you how much Bourbon to drink, they can ultimately enslave you — and they will — ostensibly for your own good. First they come for the Indians’ booze, and next they come for your booze. And then for your guns. And then for your right to defend yourself against the very savages you can no longer incapacitate with a good keg of Barbados’ finest. It’s a slippery slope.

All of us are concerned with alcohol consumption in America. (I could stand to have another belt myself.) But we should be more concerned with the incremental loss of small freedoms we are facing in this country. What begins with the prohibition of selling alcohol to Indians ends with the savage foes having a go at your old lady, while you watch helplessly behind the bars of the jail that the “thought police” set up — protecting you from your freedoms, one drunk Indian at a time.

Further reading

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