I am sometimes amazed by what happened in the past. Usually I am amazed because I cannot understand how it could have happened. I catch myself thinking, “how could that be true?” I am now learning it wasn’t true, I misunderstood what actually happened.
Prohibition, or the outlawing of the sale of alcohol, seems like an anomaly in our past and is something I thought, “how could that be?” Its seemed especially odd since it was during a time called the “Roaring ’20s“. I have now learned, it didn’t happen as I had thought. The biggest misperception I had was that it was a reaction to too much drinking or religious fundamentalism. According to the January 17, 2020 NYTimes article, “Why Americans Supported Prohibition 100 Years Ago“, prohibition was enacted to stop big business from profiting on poor addicted people. As noted often in the article:
Temperance crusaders weren’t crackpots. They were fighting the business of making money off addiction.
Specifically, it was a move against Saloons that became too powerful and were taking advantage of poor. As it explained
…prohibition (was enacted) “for the safety and redemption of the people from the social, political and moral curse of the saloon.”
I had also thought, due to movies there was a rush to get alcohol. The articles states it was met more with yawns than yelling. It states:
…there was no mad dash for hooch on the night of Jan. 16, 1920, no “going out of business” liquor store sales on Prohibition Eve. The United States had already been “dry” for the previous half-year thanks to the Wartime Prohibition Act. And even before that, 32 of the 48 states had already enacted their own statewide prohibitions.
They said it was not a big issue because…
…with debates over ratifying the Peace of Versailles and a war scare with Bolshevik Russia, the 18th Amendment was barely front-page news.
They did note:
A few restaurants and hotels held mock funerals for booze, but the city’s saloons had long since been shuttered, and “the spontaneous orgies of drink that were predicted failed in large part to occur.”
False beliefs exist now about why prohibition was enacted. I know I had an incorrect understanding. Prohibition happened because of something that sounds far too familiar. Prohibition was intended to push back against…
…powerful business interests — protected by a government reliant on liquor taxes — getting men addicted to booze, and then profiting handsomely by bleeding them and their families dry.
As most of us know, when we fail to learn from history, it has a tendency to repeat. It is hard to know what happened if we weren’t there so it is valuable to educate ourselves. The article suggests…
Our inability to comprehend the past comes from taking current worldviews and projecting them backwar
…are opioids deja vu all over again?
If you have time, I encourage you to read the full article at the NYT. For me it was thought provoking article. Please share your thoughts…
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