Skip to comments.Prohibition is an Awful Flop, We Like It
Posted on 10/27/2011 1:18:00 PM PDT by PBRCat
[T]he film is beautifully composed. There are seductive inserts of bottling machinery and a perfect whiskey old fashioned cocktail being made. Some sequences border upon being high quality advertising agency pornography produced for a liquor industry client. There are no laborers ordering Boilermakers in the final cut... Burns knows his real audience, his business partners at the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (your tax dollars at work) prefer sophisticated cocktails rather than canned beer and pork rinds.
The documentary praises Frances Willard of the Womens Christian Temperance Union as a feminist heroine while ignoring her bizarre personal lifestyle (cross dressing in masculine attire and conducting numerous lesbian affairs on two continents with her intimates who affectionately called her Frank) which marked her as something of a fanatical crackpot. Willards organization was not above employing racist arguments to promote prohibition. Negroes were supposedly transformed into bestial brutes by the demon rum. Before the Twenties, the corner saloon was decidedly a male institution that was routinely off limits to women. It was also a political gathering place as many taverns were owned by ward politicians, so the W.C.T.U., headquartered in Evanston, Illinois, aligned itself with the suffragettes.
In faulting Protestant evangelicals and others for supporting Prohibition, the documentary sidesteps the significant role of Progressives in the coalition that secured the passage of the 18th Amendment. Woodrow Wilson opposed prohibition, but his veto was overridden. References to Progressives in the dry movement are kept to an absolute minimum. I counted a grand total of two such comments in over five hours. Politically correct orthodoxy demanded no less and Burns did not disappoint his benefactors. After all, the heirs to the Progressive movement want to mandate government healthcare and to outlaw smoking and certain cooking fats.
(Excerpt) Read more at cdobs.com ...
I quit watching because it did seem to have a transparent slant.
What a bizarre lady/laddie. A factoid tailor made for a slam on supposed mainstream Christians. But I guess this picture wasn’t about gays so they left it out. No worry, it’ll probably be in the next one.
Jane Addams is another Progressive icon who was a lavender sister.
The President has no veto power, or any other role in the amendment process. Possibly this is because for Congress to propose an amendment it has to have the 2/3 needed to override a veto anyway.
Wilson did veto the enabling Volstead Act, but Congress overrode his veto in record time.
I thought it was pretty good - the Progressive word was sprinkled non-liberally but it was there.
Watch it online - I think PBS’s site still has it up.
Some are. But then so are some white men, so I'm not sure what their point is.
Mean drunks come in every color.
You are correct.
"Alien illiterates ... rule our cities today; the saloon is their palace, and the toddy stick their sceptre. It is not fair that they should vote, nor is it fair that a plantation Negro, who can neither read nor write, whose ideas are bounded by the fence of his own field and the price of his own mule, should be entrusted with the ballot ... The colored race multiplies like the locusts of Egypt. The grog-shop is their center of power. The safety of women, of childhood, of the home is menaced in a thousand localities at this moment."
Do you think Romney's parents named him "Willard" in honor of her big-government, nanny-state, temperance stance, or to commemorate her views on race?
It did mention Christian temperance supporters more than Progressives, but they were mentioned (e.g., William Jennings Bryant). The 18th Amendment is a perfect example of the stupidity that can come from “bipartisanship”, another example being McCain-Feingold.
Try not to be too stupid. Romney was named after J. Willard Marriott, the founder of the hotel chain. Dr. Willard Richards was an early Mormon leader, and the name was passed down in the Marriott family.
The documentary praises Frances Willard of the Womens Christian Temperance Union as a feminist heroine while ignoring her bizarre personal lifestyle (cross dressing in masculine attire and conducting numerous lesbian affairs on two continents with her intimates who affectionately called her Frank) which marked her as something of a fanatical crackpot.
Times were different then. Women could live together, even address each other in very affectionate terms without having sex. I really doubt Frances Willard actually had "lesbian affairs" in the sense most people would understand today. Ditto for Jane Addams, Willa Cather, and other spinsters of that era.
Willards organization was not above employing racist arguments to promote prohibition.
Pretty common in her day and age all across the political spectrum.
Prohibitionism was a movement backed by two movements in America: progressivism and moralism. In its early days prohibition and temperance was indeed a radical movement often associated with abolition, women's rights, world peace, abolition of child labor, vegetarianism, etc. Both Susan B. Anthony and "Mother" Ella Reeve Bloor (the "grandmother of the Communist Party") started out in the temperance movement. However, not all progressives were supporters. Clarence Darrow is but one example of a progressive who was anti-prohibition.
While progressivism is still with us, the other factor, moralism, has largely been forgotten. The Republican party, as the heir of the Puritan tradition (as opposed to the Episcopalian/freethinking Jeffersonian/Jacksonian Democrat party) was originally very moralistic, as opposed to intemperence, gambling, and "sabbath"-violation as it was to slavery. And just as not all progressives were "dries," not all opponents of slavery were radical freethinkers. Anti-slavery sentiment played a role in the First Great Awakening (though not all the figures of that movement were anti-slavery). Rev. Lyman Beecher (more orthodox than his famous children) was also a promoter of temperance (and anti-Catholicism). As the Republican platform of 1856 made clear, that party regarded slavery and polygamy as "relics of barbarism"--a moralistic comment if there ever was one. For these people, anti-slavery wasn't a "left wing" position but one that fit in well with opposition to gambling, liquor, and prostitution.
Alas, moralism has all but died in American politics. Between the radical anti-moralism of the Left and the radical libertarianism of the contemporary Right, public morals are now universally hated in America. And see what it's gotten us.
The Prohibition Party, the third oldest political party in America, still exists. It is currently split into two factions: this one and this one. As you can see, its traditional animal mascot is the camel.
PS: I have often remarked that the Left-Right spectrum is different in America from most of the rest of the world, and the prohibitionist/temperance movement is an example of this. Another is the American Anti-Masonic movement, which was very different from European Catholic anti-Masonry, and which in fact flourished in anti-Catholic New England and the Middle Atlantic Seaboard. This same anti-Masonry also went from being a right wing "red scare" in the days of President John Adams to a proto-radical movement allied with the progressive causes enumerated above.
You are quite right. It is surprisingly difficult to project today’s political groupings into the past. Things just don’t fit.
You got that right. Just think, in the beginning of the current Constitution Hamiltonian loose construction was conservative and Jeffersonian strict construction was liberal!
I was trolling but god damn, you just broke the line.
I strongly recommend that you read “Ardent Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” by John Kobler. Willard’s sexual proclivities were abundantly clear at a relatively early age and her relationships do not appear to have been entirely chaste. This book, originally published about forty years ago and reissued twenty years later, includes detailed extracts from her correspondence with several intimate female friends.
“The Prohibition Party, the third oldest political party in America, still exists.”
That is astonishing.
Your post was actually better than the linked article, which could really use some editing.
Like the temperance movement itself, the Prohibition Party was originally on the "Left," advocating women's rights and all manner of progressive reforms, but is now on the "Right." Weird.
Prohibition was wrong and a mistake. If I'd been alive at the time I hope I wouldn't have been taken in by the prohibitionist cause. But it's too easy to feel superior now because we have knowledge that people at the time didn't possess -- because we know that it wouldn't work. If the television series tried to be evenhanded and didn't turn prohibition advocates into caricatures or grotesques in the way that so much writing about the era does, it's to the filmmakers' credit.
It's strange now to learn that Los Angeles elected a Prohibition Party candidate to Congress a century ago. The party also elected a governor in Florida, a long-time Democrat who held some rather repellent views on race even for their day. But for a movement to actually succeed in changing the Constitution, it has to have very broad support and attract people with very different views on other issues, and even different political philosophies. Ideas and movements that we've come to regard as mutually exclusive weren't always so sharply opposed as we've come to assume.
This is very, very true. I've actually been doing a little online research since my last post on this topic and was fascinated to learn that much of the agitation for women's suffrage was not from a radical, "freethinking" perspective at all, but for a very different reason: women are more religious and moral than men. Thus if ever given political power (which they had never had before), what was to prevent them from forever banishing alcohol, premarital sex, prostitution, war, and all the other traditional evils that rowdy men (with their brains all jacked up with testosterone) were unwilling to address? This is a far cry from the opinion sometimes given on Free Republic: that women are unthinking, overemotional Commies whose enfranchisement would inevitably reduce America to a political sewer. Many early "feminists" (though I don't think that's really an appropriate label for them) were actually very conservative and moralistic and sought a more moral and religious country (though of course, there had always been those women's rights crusaders who were indeed free-thinking radicals).
Another issue that simply doesn't seem to fit into our current ideological divide in America is the position on free public schools. Nowadays the assumption is that anyone who ever at any time advocated such a thing was a (in the words of an old Johnny Carson "Tonight Show" routine) a "bribe-taking, gay, Communist, peeping tom wife beater." The original public school system was in Puritan "theocratic" Massachusetts and taught religious orthodoxy along with everything else (the act creating it was called "The Old Deluder Act," since it aimed to fight the old deluder Satan with education). American public schools originally taught a certain form of Protestantism as "the American religion" and one of anti-Catholicism's main issues was defense of the public school and opposition to any state money going to Catholic (or as they called it, "religious") institutions. One may challenge the idea of such a school system (and the removal of the primary responsibility for educating children to the parents), but it was in its beginnings hardly a red horror birthed in Hell by the devil and Adam Weishaupt. All that came later because of other reasons. Theoretically, any public school system can be a religious system (though this works better in mono-faith societies, of course).
Conservatives today have come to be total Jeffersonians (if not neo-Confederates), seeing any such Federalist/Whig crusade or position as the start of The Revolution--ironic, considering the Federalists and Whigs were considered the conservatives of their day. I have seen posts on FR hailing the Catholic opposition to public schools as a glorious prophetic insight of what those schools were "inevatibly" to become, even though the parochial school system could be considered the "public education system" of the organized and official Catholic community, and even though the parochial schools are now as full of leftist nonsense as the government schools.
How many contemporary conservatives recall that up until a hundred years ago American Catholics were opposed to prayer and Bible reading in public schools (just like the G-dless ACLU) and in the early nineteenth century the Catholic bishop of Philadelphia created a fire storm by suggesting the Bible be removed from public schools there (not because he was anti-religious, but simply to ensure peace between Protestant and Catholic students).
Let no FReeper interpret this post to mean that your own Zionist Conspirator is some sort of Horace Mann; I am not. In particular, I regard the mandatory nature of education in America as something totalitarian and as something that makes our schools very much like prisons. I merely wish, once again, to show that not every issue throughout American history can be read through the contemporary ideological lens.
Pinging wideawake for his interest.
I can't say that Catholics and others who opposed using the schools for Protestant indoctrination in the 19th century foresaw these developments, but it is interesting how things worked out.
It's also interesting that Catholic opposition in the early years of public education didn't drive the Bible out of the public schools -- not for a century -- but led to a more ecumenical use of scripture that Jews and Catholics and Protestants could all live with for some time.
I suppose it may be true that over time Catholic schools have lost much of their distinctiveness and attachment to Catholic teaching, but so did the private schools founded by mainstream Protestants, to say nothing of the universities they established.
The difference is more in the quality of education. Catholic schools and other religious schools provide a quality alternative in areas where public schools are particularly bad.
Even where public schools are "good" students get lost in all the bigness and bureaucracy, and smaller, private or denominational schools may do a better job educating many students.
Public schools were not always necessarily big. There was the local country school.