I’m Shocked. Shocked!

One of cinema’s greatest moments is the scene in which Captain Renault closes down Rick’s Cafe in the 1942 movie Casablanca, saying,  “I’m shocked! Shocked to find that gambling is going on here.”  Just then, an employee approaches and hands the Captain his winnings. The fact that it makes us smile does not mean that we also smile when our own politicians fling their hypocrisy in our faces.

Eric Schneiderman, who resigned as New York’s Attorney General after a number of women made allegations of disgusting behavior against him, may or may not be guilty of the charges. That doesn’t change the fact that a long list of pompous and self-righteous hypocrites who allied themselves with the Me Too! movement, make Donald Trump look like a particularly virtuous choir boy.

Piously and publicly proclaiming a cause while privately acting very differently is hardly a new phenomenon. While human failing is at the root of such actions, those shrilly touting their causes may have something to learn as well.

Back in the 1800s though the early 1900s, America had a serious alcohol problem. Women, in particular, suffered as men drank through their salaries and were often violent. The high rate of absenteeism, crime, and family misery led to the passage of the 18th Amendment.  Prohibition, enacted in 1920, was an attempt to respond to real suffering. While the policy was a failure and was eventually repealed (though not before creating some serious problems of its own) it was a genuine attempt to “promote the general welfare.”

Congressmen and Senators who voted in favor of Prohibition made emotional appeals on the subject. I’m sure some were sincere, but surely others saw it as a winning political stance. Women were on the verge of getting the vote and for many women this would be the single reason why they would support or oppose a legislator. Even without access to the ballot box, women vocally and physically made their preferences matter.

Not surprisingly, soon after Prohibition was enacted, Congress had its own, personal bootlegger who was even granted a storage area in the government building to house his supply. His name was George Cassiday.  He was a veteran attempting to earn a living, and was often busy from morning until night filling orders for Congressman of both parties and all districts. When, after a number of years he was shut down in the House of Representatives, he moved over to the Senate. Eventually, he wrote an expose that appeared in the Washington Post. Although he didn’t name names, Mr. Cassiday, who was referred to as ‘the man in the green hat,’ estimated that 80% of the Congress were drinkers. His writings exposing the legislators’ hypocrisy played a not insignificant role in the repeal of Prohibition. *

Being beaten by a drunken man is not funny. Sending your children to bed hungry because their father spends the evening after payday in a saloon is tragic. But banning the manufacture and transport of liquor allowed legislators to pacify females by pretending that this was going to be a panacea for human frailty.  They could speak one way to gullible women while continuing to act as they would.

Being hit upon in a vulgar fashion is not funny. For a woman to lose her job, or not get offered a job, because she won’t sleep with the boss is an egregious wrong. But the Me Too! movement, with its hysteria and emotionalism, encourages ego-driven politicians—of both genders—to tell gullible women exactly what they want to hear without demanding that the politician have even the slightest whit of common decency.

*My thanks to Lillian Cunningham and the Constitutional podcast for making me aware of this episode in history.

24 thoughts on “I’m Shocked. Shocked!”

  1. Do you want to know what is really shocking??? We are not shocked by this kind of behavior. Do you want to know what would really be shocking??? A politician that actually had a functioning moral compass. I’m sure there are a few good ones. I’m sad that I’m not shocked anymore.
    You guys are always timely in your subjects. You are truly appreciated and loved.

    1. By definition, you need ego to be a politician. Unlike the early days of the Republic, where the candidates stayed home until informed they had been elected, today the campaign is often the epicenter. The non-campaigning stopped a long time ago, but it is less and less about a message and more and more about marketing. There have always been people in it for the power and those corrupted by the power. Between the way we run elections and the excessive power granted to legislators it is amazing that there are people with integrity in office.

    1. I have heard enough personal anecdotes to think that what I would consider serious harassment is more common than I would like to think. I think women contribute to this (I know it is politically incorrect to say that) when a certain percentage of women willingly “play the game,” to get an advantage. A moral system for both men and women is needed -making this a one-way scenario isn’t going to end well.


    Miss Susan, The answer to most problems is simple- Men should respect women and women should respect women. Men need to be taught from an early age that each woman is a sister, or is someone’s mother, and should be treated the way you would want your mother treated . After all, how you treat others is a reflection of what you are and not what they are. If you do not give anyone, man, woman or child the respect they inherently deserve the blame rests squarely on you and your upbringing. But women have to understand that they should expect respect and act like it. A woman can no more hook up with a man, begin a sexual encounter and then withdraw her consent and expect to be respected than a man should continue after the woman has said no, no matter how hard it is. If men who want a career politics would only realize that their bad actions will come back to haunt them they would stay out of trouble. The troubles of the past have a way of coming home to roost.
    As an aside to your story of prohibition, Joseph Kennedy, father of the president was a prohibition bootlegger. He brought booze across the US/ Canadian border and made a large part of his fortune from that activity. With that fortune he was able to buy “respectability” and even became the Ambassador to the Court of KIng James, where he wa a staunch supported of a guy in Germany named Hitler.
    Power corrupts, and absolute power absolutely corrupts.
    Fair winds
    Bill Brower

  3. Rosalind Swift

    Good afternoon Susan, Once again I find myself musing over your thoughts on print. I agree there is a lot of hypocrisy, but on both sides. Donald Trump a choir boy, really do we believe this. Is there anything to The Russia investigation that speaks to his character. Some of the people involved with sexually assaulting women have been fired , forced to give up any

    political positions held and families destroyed by their behavior. Is behavior by our president right or wrong or is the question how does his behavior compare to others. I am saddened that we as strong Believers in moral standards continue to up hold the president in his behavior and treatment towards to women.

    1. Rosalind, I my example was an analogy. I have been clear many times that there is much about President Trump’s speech and behavior that I don’t find admirable. But Eric Schneiderman pointed a finger at the President when it should have been facing back at himself.

  4. I am curious; as people of faith, should we not be looking to help others replace ill-feelings towards our leadership with supportive mindsets? and not continue to spin things seemingly out of proportion but have grace on the sins of others just the same as Christ has grace on us? all the while being a light to the world by showing living examples of how to lead a Godly life?

    I’m not saying we need to be accepting of all of the sins of others, we sin too! But shouldn’t we help them to overcome, if possible, or at least deal effectively with their weakness of the flesh as we work through effectively dealing with our own sins? and not throw them under the proverbial bus with persecution while doing it? There’s a point to discretion! “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    Too often, it seems, that people of faith are touted as “holier than thou” as a previous comment stated when in reality true people of faith are simply those who have accepted forgiveness, realize their weakness and depravity and humbly bow before the throne of God thus choosing a different way to live their lives that looks very different from the majority of the world. Whether we drink or not, or sin or not is not in question, for we all fall short of the glory of God meaning we all sin, (not that drinking is a sin) it is the heart behind the action. How do we go about changing the hearts of people, especially those in leadership roles who God has intended for us to submit to as authority rather than bashing them publically to discredit them because of whatever sin it is they struggle with? When we change the hearts of men (and women) we open the possibility of changing their minds. When we change the minds of men, we win. If we change the minds of men to something that is based on untruth in the eyes of God we condemn them to the lake of fire and sulfur.
    A famous saying; “convince a man against his will and he remains of the same opinion still.”
    Through Christ hearts can be changed and a heart change will change the will of man.

  5. Outstanding piece. You are a rare jewel among women. Ever thought about speaking/teaching at Colleges and Universities? In our day, women are starving for godly knowledge and wisdom.

    1. I don’t think I would make it into the parking lot of most universities. I would like to write and speak more.

  6. Sorry to ‘Rain on your Parade’ and having 27+ years using
    AA as the tool( My GOD is the ‘GOD of Abraham’), I always search for the deeper meaning of things in History.
    A prime example is why I won’t wave the Confederate flag, though I am from the deep South and live here.
    Now to the point in question- The Probation. It was enacted for ENERGY not consumption(though that too WAS/IS a problem. Cars then did run on Alcohol or Gasoline. The powers of GREED wanted crude oil as the sole source of energy. They could care less about things distorting a person’s neurological system. An excellent example on YOUTUBE is Ford’s Hemp Car from 1942. It ran on Hemp Alcohol.
    In my personal life when I owned a Diesel car, and Diesel when up to $3.50 a gallon, I had manufactured Biodiesel at $2.00 a gallon for chemicals and ran better and same mileage. Did 75000 miles on my own fuel……and the exhaust smelled like French fries or fish….
    As another Jewish Philosopher I follow-Dennis Prager teaches-Look for clarity not confrontation

    And I LOVE you and your Husband as my Rabbi, Thanks again for what U2 do

    1. Thanks, Kristin. I was really intrigued by learning more about Prohibition. One of the reasons it was repealed was the recognition that it made a mockery of laws. I also wonder why there is not a stronger movement for Congress today to live under the laws it creates. There are too many exceptions.

      1. Hello Rabbi and Mrs. Lapin!
        I always find your perspectives enlightening and thought-provoking – thank you!

        I also wonder why there is not more pressure for Congress to live under the laws it creates – I don’t believe this is a new attribute to people in power, so I’m curious to try and understand how this was addressed by our founding fathers.

  7. “Play it, Sam!’ ‘Here’s lookin’ at you, kid!’ Wow, what a grand old movie Casablanca was! [Except, I suppose, that everybody smoked unfiltered Camels and Lucky Strikes.]

    Thanks so much for bringing this issue forward. We see such hypocrisy in various unsavory guises, from holier-than-thou churches that demand total celibacy and yet act surprised and outraged when men of the cloth sexually abuse altar boys, to powerful magnates on the edge of the underworld who profit illegally during Prohibition from ‘bathtub gin.’ And then these magnates sire families who become firmly ensconced in political skullduggery to grow into a powerful political octopus, a dynasty that deals in hypocrisy.

    But the worst of it is the hypocrisy of a Party today that professes bleeding-heart universal compassion and care as a heartless tactic for the manipulation of ‘minorities’ in order to seize power. Then they turn around with accusations of tactics they themselves devise and employ undercover to smear the righteous falsely. WHO was it that colluded with the Russians? The end justifies the means, they believe. But what if their means hurt the innocent and endanger the Republic (NOT the democracy!) of our Founding Fathers? We live in perilous times, when the dialectic and subversive methods of Marx and Lenin are in plain view: ‘Once WE seize power, it will be different.’ But Nimrod will not be and never will be any different. Yet even some of those accounted as ‘wise’ are deceived by this ‘dog-and-pony-show.’

  8. Brian F. Tucker

    Thomas Jefferson writer “all men are created equal”. He then went home to his plantation and slaves. It took almost a century for that sentiment to become law. I don’t see hippocracy fading as part our human make up any time soon. Unless God intervenes. One huge example is people destroying their own neighborhoods in protest of police violence. I know that I have many inconsistencies in my own thoughts and actions so as the saying goes “when you point you finger at someone else, you have three pointing back at you. God knows I have plenty to gripe about when it comes to polititions. But can we really expect them to be any better than we who elect them. Then again I grew up that women deserved our respect and gentlely conduct. But what does a 78 year old fossil know about anything.
    Whith all due respect,

    1. Brian, I’m not sure that I would call Thomas Jefferson a hypocrite though I think it would be a semester’s worth of study and discussion to come to a conclusion. We are all inconsistent – that is part of being human. That isn’t the same as hypocrisy.

      1. Thank you, Susan. Thomas Jefferson included in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence that slaves should be freed, but it was removed from the final document.

        1. Susan, I wonder how history will treat people today who in full faith and according to their understanding will say that they believe in a right to “Life, Liberty….” but also believe that abortion, including partial birth abortion, is not a contradiction to that. We cannot judge people out of context.

        2. Jefferson also freed his own slaves, at great cost. He did this although he was financially in dire straits and could have paid many of his debts had he chosen to treat the slaves as chattel rather than as human beings. In the end, he lived the principles he preached.

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