Updated: May 20, 2020
Just when you thought you‘ve seen/heard it all, out comes Shannon Watts with a example of what she thinks women should aspire to be. From page 19 in “Fight Like A Mother”, her book:
Did you catch it?
Ok, history lesson (Shannon obviously failed middle school history class). Shannon’s saying that the women of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union should be looked up to as heroes. Before we go into that, this screenshot from the link in the last sentence should give you a taste of their “greatest accomplishment“ (at least their most famous):
Again, Shannon’s own quote is saying they should be looked up to for what they “achieved“:
The power of mothers to effect change is not a new phenomenon: women have been the secret sauce in the progress we’ve made on many social issues throughout history. Just look at Prohibition. In the 1800s, chronic drinking in the United States had contributed to many social problems, including the abuse of women and children. Eventually, women began to organize, which gave rise to the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Because sobriety was considered a Christian value, women—then the religious standard-bearers of American families—were allowed to be on the front lines of the war to eradicate alcohol.
-Shannon Watts, Fight Like a Mother, page 19
Let the propaganda role (actual posters from the early 20th century in support of prohibition)!
See a familiar theme? “It’s for the children!” “If you don’t support prohibition, you’re not patriotic!“.
The advocacy and constant badgering/lobbying to lawmakers eventually led to the 18th Amendment:
After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
Yup! They got what they wanted. Booze in the US was outlawed on 1/16/1920. The “feel good” advocacy enshrined them and their work in the history books as women who brought “change” and “progress” to the United States of America. But at what cost? Thanks to these activists........
The term “organized crime” didn’t really exist in the United States before Prohibition. Criminal gangs had run amok in American cities since the late 19th-century, but they were mostly bands of street thugs running small-time extortion and loansharking rackets in predominantly ethnic Italian, Jewish, Irish and Polish neighborhoods.
In fact, before the passing of the 18th Amendment in 1919 and the nationwide ban that went into effect in January 1920 on the sale or importation of “intoxicating liquor," it wasn’t the mobsters who ran the most organized criminal schemes in America, but corrupt political “bosses,” explains Howard Abadinsky, a criminal justice professor at St. John’s University and author of Organize Crime.
“The gangs were thugs in the employ of the political machines,” says Abadinsky, intimidating opposition candidates and funneling votes to the boss. In return, the politicians and police chiefs would turn a blind eye to illegal gambling and prostitution rings.
But the underworld power dynamics shifted dramatically with the onset of Prohibition and the overnight outlawing of every bottle of beer, glass of wine and shot of booze in America. With legitimate bars and breweries out of business, someone had to step in to fuel the substantial thirst of the Roaring Twenties. And no one was better equipped than the mobsters.
You all know the names. Al Capone, Bugs Moran, Machine Gun Kelly, and the many others who took full advantage of the situation these holier than now activists have drug America in to. Besides giving birth to organized crime on a level never scene before due to bootlegging, what were the other repercussions?
Instead, the unintended consequences proved to be a decline in amusement and entertainment industries across the board. Restaurants failed, as they could no longer make a profit without legal liquor sales. Theater revenues declined rather than increase, and few of the other economic benefits that had been predicted came to pass.
On the whole, the initial economic effects of Prohibition were largely negative. The closing of breweries, distilleries and saloons led to the elimination of thousands of jobs, and in turn thousands more jobs were eliminated for barrel makers, truckers, waiters, and other related trades.
The unintended economic consequences of Prohibition didn't stop there. One of the most profound effects of Prohibition was on government tax revenues. Before Prohibition, many states relied heavily on excise taxes in liquor sales to fund their budgets. In New York, almost 75% of the state's revenue was derived from liquor taxes. With Prohibition in effect, that revenue was immediately lost. At the national level, Prohibition cost the federal government a total of $11 billion in lost tax revenue, while costing over $300 million to enforce. The most lasting consequence was that many states and the federal government would come to rely on income tax revenue to fund their budgets going forward.
The number of violations of Prohibition laws and violent crimes against persons and property continued to in- crease throughout Prohibition. Figure 4 shows an undeniable relationship between Prohibition and an increase in the homicide rate. The homicide rate increased from 6 per 100,000 population in the pre-Prohibition period to nearly 10 per 100,000 in 1933.
Above all, many Americans with a taste for liquor were determined to get hold of a drink one way or another. Illegal drinking dens had long flourished in big cities; indeed, the word "speakeasy" probably dates from the late 1880s. But now they bloomed as never before; historians estimate that by 1925, there were as many as 100,000 illegal bars in New York City alone, many of them tiny, spit-and-sawdust joints, others catering to the rich and well-connected. In Detroit, tantalisingly close to the Canadian border, smugglers used "false floorboards in automobiles, second gas tanks, hidden compartments, even false-bottomed shopping baskets and suitcases, not to mention camouflaged flasks and hot water bottles", as one account has it, to bring alcohol into the city. And somehow it speaks volumes that when the Michigan state police raided one Detroit bar, they found the local congressman, the local sheriff and the city's mayor all enjoying a drink.
On this day in 1933, the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed, repealing Prohibition. People around the country celebrated Repeal Day, up to and including president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who received a case of Budweiser carried by the company’s famous draft horses. But one group had little reason to celebrate: the Ku Klux Klan, which had allied itself with Prohibition campaigners intent on “purifying” the country–and prospered as a result.
Speaking to Slate’s Rebecca Onion, historian Lisa McGirr said that the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s was related to the passage of the Volstead Act, which imposed Prohibition, in 1920. When she looked at how the hate group gathered members, she said, “it was often around the issue of the lack of observance of Prohibition, the issue of bootlegging, of cleaning up communities.” However, these concerns masked other ones, she explained. “This issue was used instrumentally as a mandate to target those groups they already saw as enemies of white Protestant nationalism: immigrants, Catholics and African Americans.”
The Ku Klux Klan’s support of Prohibition gave the organization a way to promote its views and a way to perpetrate state-sanctioned violence against people of color, Catholics and Jews. “The war on alcohol united Progressives and Protestants, federal agents and Klansmen,” writes Kelefa Sanneh for The New Yorker.
The American government created an entire Prohibition Bureau intended to enforce alcohol-free living. However, this bureau selectively targeted groups that were perceived as inherently corrupt, like poor people, immigrants, and African Americans. Remember, the Jazz Age unfolded during Prohibition–plenty of people were drinking plenty of liquor.
So, the end result of the activism these women worked towards and the “progress” they created?
They lost and America cheered. Prohibition lasted 13 years and is looked at as a complete failure. Yet here is the leader of the new “temperance movement“ rising them up to hero status: