Role model for Trump & Cruz
❝ The war on drugs: Is it a genuine public health crusade or an attempt to carry out what author Michelle Alexander characterizes as “the New Jim Crow”?
A new report by Dan Baum [paywall] for Harper’s Magazine suggests the latter. Specifically, Baum refers to a quote from John Ehrlichman, who served as domestic policy chief for President Richard Nixon when the administration declared its war on drugs in 1971. According to Baum, Ehrlichman said in 1994 that the drug war was a ploy to undermine Nixon’s political opposition — meaning, black people and critics of the Vietnam War:
At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did…”
❝ …The claim of racial prejudice is not implausible. Although black Americans aren’t more likely to use or sell drugs, they’re much more likely to be arrested for them. And when black people are convicted of drug charges, they generally face longer prison sentences for the same crimes, according to a 2012 report from the US Sentencing Commission.
Ehrlichman claimed this was a goal of the drug war, not an unintended consequence. And Baum cites this as one of many reasons to end the drug war once and for all…
❝ So maybe the drug war reduces drug use. But it also enables and reinforces the justice system’s biases against minority Americans. And it perpetuates a black market for drugs that fuels violence in the US and around the world, particularly in Mexico.
But there are options to draw down the war on drugs without legalization. The US could decriminalize — remove jail time and other criminal penalties for personal possession but not sales — and emphasize prevention and treatment, as Portugal has done. It could allow supervised injection sites for heroin users to provide a safe place to use the drug, as Canada, Switzerland, and several others have done. It could allow for the medical use of some drugs, such as psychedelics, as some researchers have pushed for. These are steps countries and states could take without legalizing drugs…
None of these policies would wholly eliminate drug abuse, drug deaths, or drug-related violence and crime. But drug policy is often about picking the best out of the available bad options, rather than picking the perfect solution.
Reasonably candyass reporting. Still, a solid source acknowledging the criminality of one more of Richard Nixon’s policies. Mated to his “Southern Strategy” and you can see how the Republican Party turned from being the Party of Lincoln to the leading source of legitimizing racism in America.