Patreon Button for 1stAmender - Click to Donate!

Nixon official: real reason for the drug war was to criminalize black people and hippies

Brandon


Brandon

Nixon official: real reason for the drug war was to criminalize black people and hippies published by Mooba
Writer Rating: 3.3333
Posted on 2016-03-23
Writer Description: Brandon
This writer has written 186 articles.


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 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."

This is an incredibly blunt, shocking response — one with troubling implications for the 45-year-old war on drugs. But it's possible Ehrlichman wasn't being honest, given that he reportedly felt bitter and betrayed by Nixon after he spent time in prison over the Watergate scandal. And Nixon's drug czar, Jerome Jaffe, strongly pushed for treating drugs as a health issue, not solely a criminal matter as Ehrlichman suggested.

But the claim is not implausible. Although black Americans aren't more likely to use orsell 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.

Baum's argument: Drug prohibition began with poor intentions, it has contributed to terrible consequences (racial disparities in the justice system and drug-fueled violence around the world), and it has failed to significantly curtail drug abuse and trafficking. So we should try a new approach — and legalize and regulate drugs.

But in doing this, Baum glosses over a few options. Even if it's true that the drug war was launched on faulty reasons, that doesn't mean it hasn't led to some benefits. And even if those benefits aren't worth the costs of the current model of prohibition, there are alternatives to pulling back drug prohibition besides legalization.

As I've written before, the drug war does likely prevent some drug use: One study by Jon Caulkins, a drug policy expert at Carnegie Mellon University, suggested that prohibition multiplies the price of hard drugs like cocaine by as much as 10 times. And illicit drugs obviously aren't available through easy means — one can't just walk into a CVS and buy heroin. So the drug war is likely stopping some drug use: Caulkins estimates that legalization could lead hard drug abuse to triple, although he told me it could go much higher.

America's latest drug epidemic provides some evidence for Caulkins's claims. In the past couple decades, doctors loosened access to very addictive and potentially deadly opioid painkillers. Painkiller abuse exploded, leading not just to more overdose deaths but to people trying other opioids, such as heroin, and overdosing on those as well. So more access led to more abuse and deaths.

Does this mean the war on drugs, as it's currently fought, is worth it? Not necessarily. It's a matter of weighing the pros and cons of the current model of drug prohibition.

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 allowsupervised 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.

Baum does, however, acknowledge that even if a country does legalize, there are various ways to do it. Governments could spend much, much more on prevention and treatment programs alongside legalization to deal with a potential wave of new drug users. They could require and regulate licenses to buy drugs, as some states do with guns. Or they could ban private, for-profit sales of drugs, limiting greedy companies' abilities to market and sell the drugs no matter the consequence (as tobacco companies have done to get Americans hooked on cigarettes — to still very deadly effects).

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.

Still, there are far more options than prohibition and legalization, and different drugs with all sorts of different risks likely merit different policies. But it's going to be very difficult to get to the right balance of policies if the debate is framed as deciding between onlylegalization and prohibition.

   

Sources:
http://www.vox.com/2016/3/22/11278760/war-on-drugs-racism-nixon

Article Rating: 0.0000



You have the right to stay anonymous in your comments, share at your own discretion.

Anonymous: 2017-10-07 05:53:28 ID:2149

cost-free unlimited revisions
A lot Much more than an Essay Program
At the same time orders for college essay papers are the best usual request we have, once students realize that we make available every practical type of academic producing, they begin make use of us whenever they have a absolutely need. Our college paper producing company encompasses all subjects, all topics, and all grade degrees. We also take orders for book and movie reviews, for case studies and lab reports, for research projects and proposals, and for thesis and dissertation consultation. Even as most other college paper composing expert services do offer assistance to students beyond the undergraduate amount, we have recruited and employed phenomenal Ph.D. scholars so that graduate students have a location to pick expert assistance too.
College Admissions and Scholarships Essays
If you ever are on the midst of applying to college, grad school, or competing for scholarship awards, you might be probably working around the essays that need to accompany your purposes. You have studied the prompts and have probably spent some time on the internet reading college essays that worked. Nonetheless, you have been through the course of action of brainstorming, trying to consolidate and organize your thoughts, and attempting to put together a creative and really exciting essay, to no avail.
You do not must settle for a college entrance essay that is certainly just mediocre. You can actually come over to UrgentEssayWrting.com and get a particular that will “knock their socks off!” Seriously, we have a team with the most creative engaging writers who have been employed solely to the purpose of producing the best outstanding essays and personal statement to ever hit admissions decision-makers!
Students who want college entry essays that readers will not soon forget, spot your order today.
UrgentEssayWriting.com is in this article to help make students successful - As soon as you want