Editorial: Ralph, Al, Donald and Adolf
VT superfriend JeffInOkc is back with another incredibly thought provoking editorial. Take it away Jeff! - ED
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A few weeks ago I read a tweet mentioning that the Quad was undergoing renovations to the shopping areas that are east of the elevators on the ground floor. This area includes the space where the snack bar named "Betty's" was located. I responded with "A pox on Gary Loveman's house if there is nothing named Betty's when it reopens." Betty's was named for Betty Englestad, the wife of Imperial Palace (now The Quad) builder and operator Ralph Englestad. The gentleman known on this site as MinVegas shared the opinion that Mr. Englestad's admiration of Adolf Hitler was such that neither he or his wife deserved any memorialization at the property. I think this is too complex an issue for Twitter, so I'm hoping Mr. Monster will allow it to be discussed here.
I will share what I know of the Englestad/Hitler controversy: In 1986 and 1988, at the Imperial Palace, Englestad had parties on Hitler's birthday, April 20. He had a private room at the Imperial Palace that stored his large collection of Nazi memorabilia. He owned several cars that were reported to have belonged to Nazi leaders, and he had paintings of himself and Hitler in Nazi uniforms with inscriptions reading "To Adolph from Ralphie" and vice versa. Although the parties were private, word obviously got out about these events, and in 1989 the Nevada Gaming Commission hit him with a $1.5 million fine for actions that damaged the Nevada casino industry's reputation. I think that is about $5 million in today's dollars. He also issued a public apology.
Englestad also had an extensive collection of General George Patton memorabilia and papers. The papers were valued at $1.45 million when he donated them to his alma mater, North Dakota State University. Englestad had a collection of several WWII military vehicles and much other memorabilia from both Allied and Axis sides. Born in 1930, he would have been in his adolesence during the war.
Recently, I watched an episode of SportsCentury on ESPN Classic, a biography of Oakland/LA Raiders owner Al Davis. Davis was born 6 months before Englestad, and was noted in the program to have had a tremendous admiration of Hitler. He considered him one of the great men of the 20th century. Davis was jewish, but was somehow able to reconcile his admiration for Hitler with Hitler's hatred of his people, and his attempts to destroy them. I'm 55 years old and I gotta say people just acted differently during the postwar era than they do now.
As Englestad became wealthy, it appears he was very generous with his giving. Some reports list his family as being one of the top 10 contributors to higher education in the United States. His estate has given away hundreds of millions of dollars. He was a leading employer of disabled people. Over 200 of his 2,000 plus employees at the Imperial Palace were classified as disabled in some capacity. Even after the Nazi controversy he received many awards for his charity and support of those less fortunate.
Now, if you see any parallel to Englestad and future ex-NBA owner Donald Sterling, let me point out one major difference. The number who have stepped up to defend Sterling during this time are, by my count, ZERO. Sterling is not known to have real friends or be considered a humanitarian.
So here's my question: does a guy who had an idiotic Hitler fixation in a different era, but gave away hundreds of millions of dollars and directly employed and helped hundreds of disabled people deserve to have any tribute to himself or his widow banished from the casino he built?
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