Don’t cry, kiddo! Uncle Ben’s here to explain everything. Credit: Arwan Sutanto / Unsplash

Amid the joy and jubilation of day one of legal reefer in Illinois came this cautionary page-one Tribune headline posing the question: “Is ‘Just say no’ now a no-go? How to talk to kids about pot.”

Oh, brother. OK—a few thoughts right off the bat.

Number one, in all due respect to the many excellent and hardworking journalists at the Tribune, I’m not sure I’d turn to the Trib anytime soon for child-rearing advice.

I mean, this is the same newspaper that thought it would be a good idea to help usher in the age of Trump by endorsing Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, for president back in 2016.

And number two—c’mon, Trib. This headline reads like a last gasp of reefer madness—as though marijuana is some foreign substance that kids know nothing about. As opposed to the substance they were smoking in the backyard just last week. 

OK, yes, it’s good to talk to your kids about all the world’s tempting vices—gambling and drinking included. But let’s not pretend that Just Say No was anything more than a marketing campaign devised by slicksters who were probably high at the time.

Having said that, I think the Trib is onto something. It might not be such a bad idea to dedicate at least one article a day to explaining the inexplicable to youngsters.

Like, for instance, one of my personal favorites . . .

Why is it that when it comes to stuff like doling out billions to Amazon Chicago is flush with cash, but when it comes to hiring nurses for low-income kids in south- or west-side neighborhood schools, we’re dead broke?

Or, in the realm of marijuana . . .

If marijuana is so bad for you, how come mainly Black people got busted for possessing it?

And if everyone is so happy that it’s legal, why did it take so long to legalize it in the first place?

If you recall, it was a little over a year ago that Governor Bruce Rauner was promising downstate voters he would never allow city slickers up in Chicago to legalize weed.

Like downstaters don’t smoke reefer.

And it was only about five years ago that Mayor Rahm—gearing up for a run for his second term—vowed to fight against legalization. 

Just like Rahm—leading from behind.

In fact, it was only about seven years ago that the aforementioned Tribune writers declared we should give “a dose of tough love” to young reefer smokers by hauling them off to jail.

Even though it was pretty clear that the only youngsters getting hauled off to jail were Black ones. I still feel bad for all those white teenagers in the suburbs who missed out on the tough love.

Coincidentally, legalization occurred the same week that President Trump led us a little closer to war with Iran by ordering the killing of General Qasem Soleimani.

Within days, Iran’s leaders were vowing revenge. Trump—who had promised to keep us out of endless wars—had dispatched another 3,500 troops to various Middle Eastern hot spots. And congressional Republicans—surprise, surprise—started calling on Democrats to drop impeachment because we have to rally around our president during wartime.

I still remember the protests that erupted over President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq back in March of 2003. Pretty much everything those protesters warned us about has turned out to be true, particularly the prediction that having gone into Iraq, it would be very hard to get out.

At one point, hundreds of protesters marched onto Lake Shore Drive, shutting down rush-hour traffic.

When the marchers emerged from the Drive on the Gold Coast, the police rounded them up and carted them off to jail.

It was then-Mayor Daley’s way of letting everyone know how much he supported the war and how much he disdained those protesters who dared to close his Drive.

President Bush was forever grateful. In 2006, Bush flew to Chicago to celebrate his 60th birthday with Daley. They dined at a restaurant in the South Loop.

At that time, federal prosecutors were putting together corruption cases against the Daley administration, zeroing in on some of the mayor’s closest City Hall aides.

I know I can’t be the only Chicagoan who suspects Bush’s birthday visit was a not-so-subtle way of telling prosecutors to back off of Daley.

In the end, Bush got his war. Daley got to run Chicago. And a bunch of nettlesome lefties got tossed into jail. Thus giving bipartisanship a real bad name.

By the way, no one from the Bush administration—not Bush, not Vice President Dick Cheney, not Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld, etc.—ever got prosecuted or impeached for lying or making up evidence to gin up support for that war.

So, here’s another paradox to discuss with the kiddies . . .

How come the people who were right about the war got thrown into jail for speaking out, while the leaders who deceived us into fighting it went unpunished?

Well, I don’t want to start the new year feeling all hopeless. So, consider this . . .

Five years after Bush launched that invasion, the country got all fired up and elected Obama, who had been against the war.

Of course, much of the country promptly went back to sleep once Obama was elected. As the Republicans regrouped and—here we are, in the age of Trump.

As we slip closer to the November presidential showdown, I think it might be a good idea to try that waking up thing again.

I love marijuana legalization as much as the next guy—but maybe we need less reefer and more resistance in the coming months.

Unless, of course, the former inspires you to do the latter. In which case, fire up the bong: we’ve got work to do.   v