FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Half Truth About the War on Drugs

“Nixon’s Drug War Was (and Still is) a Racist Tool to Disrupt and Neutralize Black Communities” was the headline of an article published recently week by  Melissa Franqui, communications director of the Drug Policy Alliance. She was stating a half-truth. Her hook was a comment made in 1994 by John Ehrlichman, a top Nixon aide who had done time for his role in the Watergate cover-up, to a very good journalist named Dan Baum. Baum had used the quote years ago, Dr. Sunil Aggarwal cited it in a scholarly article in 2012, but Ehrlichman’s blunt confession remained below the radar until Baum recounted it in the new issue of Harpers:

“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.”

Reading Franqui’s headline and article, you would never know that the gang in the White House was targeting not just black people but “the antiwar left!” And what a success they made of it! Today the US military has bases in more than 100 foreign countries and US armaments manufacturers are selling weapons of mass destruction to governments and insurgents waging war from Afghanistan to Nigeria. (Who says nothing is manufactured in the US anymore?)  The military-industrial complex is so thoroughly in charge that Barack Obama was compelled to replace Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, a soldier, with Ashton Carter, an arms salesman.

The Drug Policy Alliance’s analysis of Prohibition entwined with racism is right on but incomplete. What other purposes were and are being served by proponents of the War on Drugs? The federal government spends trillions of dollars —we, the people, are not allowed to know how much— making the world safe for corporate investment. It is very heartening to hear Senator Sanders ask, “Who made us the police of the world?”

Now obstructing Sanders’ path to the White House are the Democratic Party “super-delegates” —office-holders and party functionaries who are not obligated to abide by the will of the rank-and-file as expressed in the primaries.  The super-delegate mechanism was created by party insiders to prevent a repetition of “antiwar leftists” nominating a candidate as they did in 1972, when Senator George McGovern, got slaughtered by the Nixon gang in the 1972 general election. The strategy described so succinctly by Ehrlichman achieved both its goals. Was only one of them objectionable?  The DPA line amounts to: “Deplore Racism, Ignore Imperialism.”

More than 125,000 members of the military who served in Iraq and Afghanistan —about 6.5% of the total can’t get benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs due to “bad paper” discharges, according to a new report from Swords to Plowshares.  Ten percent of Marine Corps enlistees become ineligible after service in combat zones. Attorney Coco Culhane observes, “We separate people for misconduct that is actually a symptom of the very reason they need health care.”

More articles by:

Fred Gardner is the managing editor of O’Shaughnessy’s. He can be reached at fred@plebesite.com

Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
Domenica Ghanem
Is Bush’s Legacy Really Much Different Than Trump’s?
Peter Certo
Let Us Argue Over Dead Presidents
Christopher Brauchli
Concentration Camps From Here to China
ANIS SHIVANI
The Progress of Fascism Over the Last Twenty Years
Steve Klinger
A Requiem for Donald Trump
Al Ronzoni
New Deals, From FDR’s to the Greens’
Gerald Scorse
America’s Rigged Tax Collection System
Louis Proyect
Praying the Gay Away
Rev. Theodore H. Lockhart
A Homily: the Lord Has a Controversy With His People?
David Yearsley
Bush Obsequies
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail