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The war on drugs is racist. Donald Trump is embracing it with open arms Steven W Thrasher

By Docta · Apr 19, 2017 · ·
  1. Docta
    war on drugs.png When I first read the Washington Post story that the US attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, wants to “bring back” the “war on drugs”, I thought to myself: bring back? Where did it go? Is General Sessions himself on drugs? Because, despite a few modest reforms, somebody would have to be high to think the war on drugs has really gone away. But the framing of an impetus to “bring back” the drug war is the same as Donald Trump’s fantasy of making America “great again” and must be understood for exactly what it is: a white power grab to control black and brown people couched in the restoration of past glory.

    Drugs have long been used to scapegoat black and Latino people, even as study after study finds that white youth use drugs more than their non-white peers and white people are the more likely to have contraband on them when stopped by police. As Trump plans a “deportation force”, a war on drugs amped up on raids will help create darker-skinned scapegoats as he rips immigrant communities apart.

    General Sessions will lead this war for Trump. Standing on the US-Mexico border, General Sessions mischaracterized immigration as consisting of “criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent citizens”. Evoking the same racialized sexual fear to stoke anti-immigrant sentiment that his boss did when he began his campaign by calling Mexican rapists, Sessions ignored that immigrants commit fewer crimes as he defiantly took a “stand against this filth”.

    The war on drugs is itself a kind of opiate of the white masses, hustled and imbibed to stoke white people’s fear about people of color – even as there already about 1.5 million black men already disappeared from US society by early death or incarceration. If you don’t think nostalgia for the war on drugs and a desire to reboot it isn’t racist, consider the “hillbilly elegy” love affair American politics, culture and media has been indulging regarding white people addicted to opioids lately.

    Many rural counties hit hardest by the opioid epidemic voted for a man whose budget and failed healthcare plan would harm people like them. These sites of drug addiction are the subjects of public sympathy and are less likely to be battlefields in the war on drugs than cities and border towns. That’s because, when “a drug epidemic’s victims are white”, even conservative politicians tell us to understand these people, to feel compassion for them and to see their addictions as public health, not carceral, matters, in the context of deindustrialization.

    We never heard any messages like that from American politicians or media during the drug epidemics of the 1980s, which rocked black America. Drugs were seen as moral failings which needed to be violently policed – and the economics of addiction were imagined as disconnected from deindustrialization, poverty or unemployment.

    This is what Sessions wants to “bring back”. That’s not because he thinks it would help black or brown America or even poor white America. Rather, the intention is to subdue the illogical fears of white America (which is Trump’s base and perhaps the only major demographic in America which approves of him) that most black and Hispanic men are rapists and thieves just waiting to harm, kill and rob them.

    potus.jpg Sessions, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, has no moral authority to clamp down on “law and order” in the first place, as he absurdly had to recuse himself from investigating the president’s ties to Russia after he told Congress under oath that he himself had had no contact with Russian officials. (He did.)

    But hypocrisy is no more foreign to General Sessions than is attacking the rights of people of color. Coretta Scott King wrote a 10-page letter to help, successfully, keep him from getting a judgeship in 1986. Sessions hounded people for trying to expand the black vote decades ago – just as he dropped the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against onerous voting burdens in Texas, and is considering letting cities whose police departments have engaged in well-documented racial violence out of federal oversight. (Fortunately, at least in Baltimore, a judge is not allowing this.)

    General Sessions is reportedly “eager to bring back the national crime strategy of the 1980s and 90s from the peak of the drug war, an approach that had fallen out of favor in recent years as minority communities grappled with the effects of mass incarceration”. This is unethical, considering Sessions himself recently admitted that crime is at near historic lows.

    The General’s approach flies in the face of humane reforms that Barack Obama made (such as pardoning non-violent drug offenders and calling for the end of mandatory minimum sentences) and is counter to even more recent criminal justice reforms, such as New York City’s plan to close its notorious Riker’s Island jail and New York State’s decision to raise the age of juveniles charged with crimes from 16 to 18.

    But it’s not hard to understand if you know that racism rarely gets better in America, its means just evolve – and a prime means of racial control is incarceration. The war on drugs has continued an overincarceration of black people which began after the civil war. This war has made it so that, for example, nearly 90% of NYPD arrests for marijuana have been of young black and Latino men.

    The war made it so that crack cocaine (more associated with black American drug use) is punished much more harshly than powder cocaine (more associated with white America). Bipartisan legislation which sought to end this disparity is opposed by General Sessions and Trump.

    A friend of mine predicted that many of Trump’s voters were in on his con all along: that they knew he wasn’t a successful businessman, a Christian moralist or a bona fide conservative. What he was, however, was a strongman willing to enact their revenge.

    By railing against the “inner cities” and holding steadfast to his belief that the Central Park 5 were guilty – even after DNA evidence exonerated them – Trump signalled he would clean up after a black president and put black and brown people in their place.

    General Sessions is the henchman he has dispatched to the frontlines of this task, using the war on drugs as his battering ram.

    © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Original Source

    Written by: Jeff Sessions, Apr 17, 2017, Guardian News and Media Limited

Recent User Reviews

  1. mess clean
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed May 4, 2017
    Very informed and well-sourced article which clearly outlines the failure and true motivation of the "war on drugs".

    It's an eye-opener, except if you're so willing to keep your eyes shut you miss the point and claim it is propaganda...



  1. PhilthyPhil
    Another great addition to the funny papers.. what is this country coming to...
  2. EdmundOnHigh
    The only way to end drug wars is legalization of them, any "war on drugs" won't work.
  3. Newjerseyuser
    I find it alarming that most on the left view every issue inacial terms. I also wonder why this piece of writing isn't fact checked by any readers. The inaccuracies and omissions are obvious to anyone with even a small amount of understanding of these issues. Im not a supporter of the "war on drugs" by any means. But I also don't think trying to change the culture of our inner cities is a racist act of revenge. I'm not sure where the author has spent his life. I've spent mine in the streets. Surrounded by the results of both political parties unintended consequences.
    1. perro-salchicha614
      What inaccuracies and omissions are you referring to?
      mess clean likes this.
    2. mess clean
      The article is clearly sourced through links. Newjerseyuser, you make statements which lack any evidence. Please provide some.
    3. idfma
      Actually, I think there's some pretty clear evidence Sessions is racist and he is looking to punish people. Trying to change the culture of the inner cities, independent of the culture at large (since they are completely interdependent) may not be an act of racist revenge (although there's quite a bit of evidence starting with Nixon to prove just that), but it is nonetheless real and racially imbalanced.
      mess clean likes this.
  4. perro-salchicha614
    Sigh. More overblown emotional rhetoric designed to grab attention and advertising dollars. I don't disagree that the mass incarceration of minorities for low-level drug offenses is a huge destabilizing factor in American society, but the issue needs to be approached from a level-headed perspective. Articles like this only retard serious discussion of drug policy reform, in my opinion.
  5. idfma
    But, perro, the mass incarceration is exactly what we are talking about here--that's where this leads. I'm not sure it's possible to be hysterical about the fact we incarcerate more people than China and Russia. The US has more people in jail than any other country in the world--we have almost 500,000 more people in jail than China according to the World Prison Brief website. Even if they were all white, that would appear to be a problem.

    Not only that, but Sessions' is far more hysterical and hyperbolic in his rhetoric than this article, so I'm confused why this article is getting so much heat for sourced concern. From the International Business Times:

    "The latest Federal Bureau of Prisons statistics showed the white population was 58.7 percent in August, compared to the 37.8 percent of blacks being housed at federal institutions. At the state level, however, the department said that black male prisoners represent 38 percent of the population while whites males account for 35 percent and 21 percent are Hispanic males. Overall, blacks are 5.1 more times likely to be incarcerated than whites, and blacks represent more than half of the prison population in 11 states."

    If I was 5.1 times more likely to be incarcerated, I'd be alarmed too. That is a statistically significant number, when you couple that with the next statement from the same article:

    For instance, in 2003, black men were reportedly 12 times more likely to receive prison sentences for drug offenses even though surveys have shown white and black people in the U.S. use and sell drugs at almost the same rate. Blacks only represent a small fraction of the U.S. population and they only account for 14 percent of drug users in the country, but they make up 34 percent of people arrested for drug offenses and 45 percent of those behind bars on drug charges.

    This is a real problem, and I think it's something to get excited about. It doesn't have to be a conscious effort on all or even most participants' part to be inherently racist--it could just be the way people like Sessions have designed the system, even if they don't mean the odds to be stacked against minorities they still are and that's our problem--all of us. Private prisons are a problem for all of us--even if you think it's just fine to overarrest, oversentence, and overincarcerate minorities, because once they run out of people of color, they will still have quarterly earnings to make (private prisons are publicly traded in some cases), so who do they turn to then? I don't really think the problem can be overstated at this point and it is racial--the statistics make that painfully clear.
      mess clean likes this.
  6. detoxin momma
    i just heard that Trump is actually going after the wealthy, making them pay junks of money out...thats very shocking to hear, i assumed he'd just keep making the rich richer and the poor poorer, not his plan apparently.

    maybe he will make america great again....money does go on trees afterall , wink wink nod nod....its called marijuana:D
      mess clean likes this.
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