Prohibition Propaganda The Extremists' Creations By Sarah
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Prohibition Propaganda: The Extremists' Creations By: Sarah
Why did people create such influential propaganda? In order to fully understand the extremists’ actions, one should first take a look at where these extremists were coming from. The Prohibitionists wanted to protect the values of the American family that they believed were being put into jeopardy by alcohol abuse. It seemed to them that such abuse could be stopped with the restrictive law. One journalist of the Christian Courier wrote that the typical "wet" was upset about Prohibition because he was:
deprived of his liberties... the privilege of getting drunk... the
honored privilege of beating and otherwise mistreating his wife
and children and shooting his neighbor... the privilege of stealing
his neighbor’s pocketbook, watch, automobile, and wife... the
privilege of killing... blowing open safes and robbing banks... such
glorious liberties. (McCarty, 24).
The general view of the Prohibitionists is summarized well in this excerpt from a Baptist editorial about the Eighteenth Ammendment: "There has never been a law passed in the United States that brought more prosperity or did more good than this provision of the Constitution, except, perhaps, the abolition of human slavery."(McCarty, 24).
On the other hand, Anti-Prohibitionists wanted to protect the freedom of American citizens to drink alcohol, and to purchase it from honest merchants rather than criminals. They felt that their freedom should not be restricted by "a law that truly patriotic, freedom-loving Americans (could) never be made to obey"(Prohibition Primer, 40). It was written about Prohibitionists that:"As soon as there were enough of them, these Prohibitionists went into politics. They tried, that is, to take over our government."(Primer, 20). The general consensus of the extreme Anti-Prohibitionists was that "Prohibition (was) doing more harm to America than anything else in all her history."(Primer, 7).
The extreme Prohibitionists created many posters that associated alcohol with the devil, and plastered them up everywhere for all to see. They used images of starving children with slogans about daddy drinking all the money away, and character’s such as "King Alcohol" leading groups of drunken people to invoke disgust and pity in the general public. Worst of all, they forced their views upon the impressionable minds of wide-eyed children.
This verse was written for a Sunday school lesson to "raise a striking spector of personal anguish and family distress"(Clark, 3):
Shoeless over frozen ground
His wretched children go,
And away he staggers
To where the sound
Of drunken revel is ringing ‘round
To taste his cup of woe (Clark, 3).
The Anti-Prohibitionists pumped out similar propaganda in support of their side. One anonymous Anti-Prohibitionist author wrote a book about rebelling against Prohibition that was geared specifically toward children. It almost served as a "how to" book, and was full of brain-washing suggestions.
For instance, your mother and father probably have some old
Prohibitionist friend who comes to your house occasionally. Suppose
some day, this old friend pats you on the head and chuckles: "I’ll bet
this young man doesn’t believe in breaking the prohibition law while
its a law of this country." Then in your very politest voice you can
say: "Mr. Robinson, I am terribly sorry to disagree with you, but I
think mother and father are perfectly right in having whatever they
want to drink at their own table, and when I grow up I expect to do
exactly as they do."(Primer, 89).
The chapter seven heading in this unbelievable book was "Why It Is Right To Disobey Prohibition"(Primer, 60). Clearly the Anti-Prohibitionists were guilty of preying upon young and easily-influenced minds the same way the Prohibitionists were.
Dishonesty and stretching of facts were used on both sides in desperation to force opinions on others, namely the next generation. What effect did this have? One author wrote in 1924, that "So much of what has been said and written concerning national prohibition is neither scientific nor accurate that the impartial investigator finds it difficult to form an estimate of the results achieved." (Beman, viii). The consequence of the propaganda these extremists created is one that effects
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Great Depression in the United States, Prohibition in the United States, Prohibition
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