The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer Co-Founder Tom Schlafly
As alert readers (ARs) of this column may recall, the Schlaflys in America are part of the Swiss diaspora. Mindful of this heritage, I don’t want to overlook Swiss Independence Day on August 1st. This is the anniversary of the Bundesbrief (Federal Charter) adopted by the communes of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden in 1291, when they came together and established the nation now known as Switzerland. In this context, it’s worth reviewing some of the highlights of the ensuing 724 years of Swiss history.
In 1515, after a crushing defeat in the Battle of Marignano, the Swiss concluded it would be prudent to remain neutral in international conflicts. Other European powers formally recognized Swiss neutrality in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. This official policy of neutrality did not, however, stop Swiss mercenaries from fighting with foreign armies if the price was right.
In 1815 the Congress of Vienna re-established the independence of Switzerland. In the same year Geneva, Neuchatel and Valais became the last three cantons to join the Swiss confederation. Some residents of the island of Sardinia have recently expressed a desire to secede from Italy and become a Swiss canton. One of the benefits of such a merger for Switzerland would be access to a yacht club eligible to host America’s Cup. (The notion that Lake Geneva qualifies as an “Arm of the Sea” always struck me as geographically dubious.)
In 1850 August Schlafly was born in Steinhof, a village in the canton of Solothurn. In 1854 his family emigrated to the United States, settling first in New Helvetia, Illinois (now Highland); then in Carlyle and finally in St. Louis.
In 1878 Otto Hess was born in Bern, not far from Steinhof. He still has the distinction of being the only major league baseball player to have been born in Switzerland. As a pitcher for the Cleveland Naps he probably played against Larry Schlafly in 1906 and 1907, when Larry was with the Washington Senators. In 1914 Otto played for the Boston Braves, who won the World Series that year after being in last place on the 4th of July.
In 2013 Tina Turner reversed the course of August and Otto by surrendering her U.S. passport and becoming a citizen of Switzerland. She was not the first iconic institution from St. Louis to take such step. Five years earlier, in 2008, a renowned macrobrewery based in St. Louis gave up its American citizenship to become a dual citizen of Brazil and Belgium.
Those ARs who have held onto their American citizenship will undoubtedly appreciate the fact that the 2015 Major League All-Star Game is being played in the aptly named Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. One of the many advantages of this venue is that Schlafly Beer is now available within walking distance of the stadium. By contrast, Schlafly will definitely not be available in Moscow or Qatar, where the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup tournaments will be held. We have never paid a bribe—whoops, I mean sponsorship fee—in any amount to FIFA or any of its officials.
ARs who are soccer fans should be especially wary about going to Qatar. Not only will there be no Schlafly Beer within thousands of miles. They will also encounter hellish weather and the quirks of Sharia Law. Temperatures in the summer typically reach 120 degrees and quenching one’s thirst with a refreshing beer will be extremely difficult. There’s one liquor store, where non-Muslim expatriates can purchase beer legally if they have a permit. Muslims, on the other hand, can be punished with flogging for drinking beer.
Gay ARs planning to go to Qatar should be aware that dozens of foreign nationals have been flogged for offences involving “illicit sexual relations” or the consumption of alcohol. Who knows what might happen to those who compound their crimes by drinking a beer before, during or after their unlawful trysts? At least they’ll be treated better than Muslims, who can executed by stoning if they’re found guilty of homosexuality.
Any ARs who might be tempted to bet on World Cup matches should note that Qatari law is based on the Quran, which says that “intoxicants and games of chance” are “abominations of Satan’s handiwork,” intended to turn people away from Allah and make them forget about prayer. So much for our bets with breweries in other cities whenever the Cardinals have played in the World Series. They would probably be considered doubly evil and also deserving compounded punishment.
Why would FIFA decide to hold the World Cup tournament in a place like Qatar, where human rights abuses are even worse than the weather? Some observers have suggested that bribery played a role. In the interest of fairness, I refer ARs to South Africa’s Football Association’s response to allegations that it secured the 2010 World Cup by paying bribes to Trinidad and Tobago. SAFA officials said with straight faces that the $10 million payment to Trinidad and Tobago had nothing to do with securing the tiny nation’s vote to hold the World Cup in South Africa. Nothing whatsoever. No, the purpose of the payment was simply to promote soccer in the African diaspora. Seriously.
Taking this statement at face value, I would like to point out to officials at FIFA, which is headquartered in Switzerland, that I would be more than happy to promote soccer in the Swiss diaspora, of which I’m part.