Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The truth about the "War on Drugs"™

Good to finally hear someone else saying what I've been arguing for years - even if it is Quentin Tarantino...


 I wrote an op-ed (still unpublished) in 1996 titled "War on Drugs = War on Blacks," making the case that just as the  "Jim Crow" laws were written to target blacks and restrict them under the guise of "legal due process," so the "War on Drugs" was a very thinly veiled (actually pretty transparent to anyone who was watching it in action, even  that long ago) way of oppressing young black men - the activist core of such organizations as the Black Panthers.

First, you make addictive drugs available at attractive prices to a population that is under-employed, under-educated and bored. Then you make drug use attractive in the media, through subtle, seemingly "anti-establishment" acceptance in popular culture in films and music - glamorize the "Gangsta Life" as a way of being "rebellious," and "sticking it to the man."

Meanwhile, you keep drug prices low enough and supplies high enough that the drug trade becomes one of the most lucrative (and at the same time most divisive and distracting) occupations in the black community. Then you have the recipe for complete oppression, justified by "concern" for "illegal drugs."

The horror of drug dependence - even without the legal repercussions - creates a climate that demoralizes families and individuals, destroys community and distracts people from any kind of political action to demand their rights. It also creates a stereotype that tends to discredit any who do try to organize, giving many black men "criminal records" - which can then be used to cast aspersions on them in other contexts - on the basis of even minor infractions for marijuana possession.

"Stop and frisk" is a perfect expression. Identify "illegal drug use" with young minority men and you have a pretext on which you can oppress them, terrorize them, harass them at every turn with no more justification required than "suspicion" of drug use or trafficking.

You have an excuse to jail tens of thousands of young black men - all out of proportion statistically to their actually engagement in drug use and trade - and work the demeaning, demoralizing, stereotyping "magic" of the prison environment on them.

The "slavery" of prison Tarantino talks about is only one of the most obvious by-products of this system. The deeper, personal effects are far, far more sinister. As Jerry Farber famously said of the education system - "It isn't what Mr. Charlie does to you that does the worst damage. It's what Mr. Charlie teaches you to do to yourself."

It is a War, with a well thought-out, long term strategy that has evolved over the years to include the enormous, profit-generating, prison-industrial system that gives localities, prison corporations and their shareholders/owners, and large, powerful worker-unions (who should be ashamed) an economic stake in the continued and expanding oppression of their fellow-citizens.

My friend Lucy Young gave me the key years ago - "The key to government oppression" she said," Is to make everything illegal, and then enforce the laws selectively." So Barack Obama and George W. Bush can use cocaine and get away with it - because they are useful to the system, and they do so in the context of "privileged" drug use.  - while others are forced to spend their lives and energy battling the "criminal justice system," which effectively destroys their ability to take any constructive political action.

We are slowly moving away from the "War" model - which has been shown so many times to be inappropriate and futile. But we are doing so for all the wrong reasons - mostly to de-criminalize the drugs of choice of the white population.

But without a recognition of the underlying methods and motives of the "War on Drugs" - so apparent in its actual effects over the decades on our population -  and those who fomented it (and the "War On Terror" as well, as another instrument of justification for the imposition of an increasingly effective and oppressive police state), the people will continue to be bamboozled by manufactured threats and false "solutions."

Expose the lies - speak out for the truth, encourage (give courage to) others to do the same. Who knows, We, the People, may still have a chance of winning our country back...


At 1/28/2013 5:44 PM , Blogger Mark Erickson said...

"still unpublished". I think you can take the "still" off by now.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home