Alcohol After Prohibition: Do We Have It Right Yet?

Do we have it right yet?


By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

Maureen Ogle, who has written a history of American beer, has a terrific entry in the "Past & Present" series in our op-ed column today, looking at the lingering effects of prohibition. She argues that while prohibition was legally repealed, the underlying view of alcohol as an inherent evil remains.

It's an interesting and worthwhile read, especially given that Friday marks the 75th anniversary of prohibition's repeal. It's also not the first time we've fostered alcohol-related debates here in the U.S. News opinion section: If you didn't catch it the first time around, be sure to check out the great argument we had over whether or not the drinking age should be lowered. John McCardell, a former president of Middlebury College (from whence I graduated—perhaps my friends and I are to blame for his views) wrote on behalf of the lower-the-drinking-age effort he has spearheaded, while Laura Dean-Mooney from Mothers Against Drunk Driving argued that that would be disastrous. (We also had a pro/con on legalization of drugs.)

All of these pieces get to larger questions about how as a society we view alcohol. Ogle and McCardell in different ways make an interesting argument that by painting it as illicit and dangerous we make it perversely attractive to, especially, teenagers.

What do you think? Does the United States treat alcohol in the proper manner? Give your thoughts in the comments section below.

(For my own part, I celebrated the prohibition anniversary with a visit to a scotch tasting hosted by the British ambassador—keep an eye on Washington Whispers for more details, and to find out what a few unhappy souls swallowed beside single malt.)

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