Friday, July 31, 2009

White House Beer Summit Sends a Bad Message: Got a Problem? Have a Drink!

When it comes to last night's White House Beer Summit with Henry Gates, Barack Obama, James Crowley (and Joe Biden) in attendance, I'm with the WCTU spokeswoman. She suggested that lemonade or iced tea would have been a better choice to serve than beer. If you are going to talk to Barack Obama over the next few days, could you please tell him that alcoholism is a terrible health problem that can lead to very costly medical bills and is the third leading cause of death in this country after heart disease and cancer? Also, could you please tell him that the American Medical Association teaches its physicians about the link between alcoholism and family violence? Time was, the leadership of the country would never have suggested that consuming alcohol could lead to the solution of any problem. In my mind, President Obama is glorifying alcohol, which sends a bad message to young people. Am I too old-fashioned?

Since whatever was said in the White House garden over beer yesterday is a secret, we have to turn to the New Yorker, to imagine what might have been talked about. After the summit, Professor Gates published a fine, patriotic statement around his arrest incident that he had probably been crafting for many days, Officer Crowley said that he and Gates agreed to disagree. In Boston, the news story that Crowley and Gates are both descended from Irish High King, Niall of the Long Knives, has been circulating. Seeing this whole situation as a tangle between two hot-headed, distant Irish cousins, who let their temper get the worst of them, might explain this situation best of all.

But I digress. The government's National Institute for Health has wonderful educational resources which teach about alcohol drinking at their website called Rethinking Drinking. It is terrible when drinking becomes a problem, and there you can learn enough at the NIH's webpage to find out if that might be happening. With the tabloids whispering that a certain White House wife is developing an over-fondness for white wine, it's time to remind ourselves that could happen to anyone.

UPDATE: I wrote Rita K. Wert, of nearby Evanston's WCTU (Woman's Christian Temperance Union), and she responded, "I have stated that the WCTU is very disappointed that our president would choose to invite these gentlemen for a beer when there are so many other beverages that could have fit the bill, ie, iced tea with fresh lemon or mint, lemonade with fresh lemons, flavored waters with fresh fruit skewers, punch mixes, etc. He is choosing to set a very poor example for the citizens of our land. . . . Alcohol is the #1 drug in America; it kills brain cells which cannot regenerate and most of us cannot afford to lose; and it clouds judgment, to say nothing about the harmful effects it has on our bodies." Ms. Wert also said that she would like the opportunity to tell Mr. Obama to consider raising the taxes on alcohol.

FURTHER UPDATE: It's reported that Henry Lewis Gates Jr. sent his neighbor, Lucia Whalen, who reported what she thought was a break-in at Gates' house a bouquet of flowers. Mrs. Whalen--who never mentioned the race of the men who she thought were wrongfully entering Gates' house--has been distraught at allegations that she is a racist.

FINAL THOUGHT: All's well that ends well. There is an important lesson in this minor brouhaha in Cambridge. While I am personally opting for the hot-tempered Irish cousins theory, both Crowley and Gates were both engaged in some wrongdoing, although of a more-or-less minor nature, made high profile due to Gates' celebrity-professor status. The real lesson here--learned from the subsequent actions of both Sgt. Crowley and Prof. Gates--is that people make mistakes and engage in some wrongdoing against others on a fairly regular basis. Maturity is all about what happens afterwards. I say "Hurrah!" for the Cambridge Police and the union who stood behind Officer Crowley as a fellow officer and refused to be divided by those who would turn this into a racial incident rather than a response to a fairly routine police call. Hurrah for Gates and Crowley, both of whom refused to walk away from this situation in a huff. And finally, hurray for Ms. Whalen, who was just trying to do the right thing as a neighbor and alert the police to a bulglary incident.

If you like the idea of temperance, or just old posters, do click on the picture, above, from France at the time of the Absinthe drinking craze, which robbed the world of some of the brightest and best minds of an entire generation.


Anonymous Gladstone said...

Ha! proof you could find fault with anything.

Aug 5, 2009, 12:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. This might be my least favorite blog ever. I got her through the search "new trier" tutors and wish I hadn't. It would be bad form to wish bad things on you so I guess I will just say God help you. God Help you.

Aug 20, 2009, 7:09:00 PM  

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