Drug Policy

How to Get Blacks & Whites to Agree to End Drug War with the Fierce Urgency of Now

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Writing at The Root, John McWhorter talks about how to get whites and blacks to join in common cause to end the goddamn drug war:

The moral calculus in the old days was much starker. To make whites see the injustice of legalized segregation and discrimination was one thing—and even then, a challenge. But today we say, "There are too many people in prison," and an answer might be, "But those people broke the law."…

Come back with the argument that what they did shouldn't be against the law, and for every person who agrees, another one can't get past a sense that selling and possessing drugs should be illegal. And that includes a lot of black leaders.

This is why I think we have to be more cynical here. Here it goes: The way we can move America as a whole to reduce our prison population and reform the legal system that put them there is to propose that ending the war on drugs will end the idea of black people as a problem.

It will, as I have argued here and elsewhere. No drug war would mean no black market serving as a tempting substitute to legal employment for men who went to lousy schools, and therefore would end the ongoing march of these men to long-term prison stays, keep them home to help raise their kids, give incentive to spending more time in school, allow generations of inner-city blacks to grow up without thinking of the cops as an enemy and much more.

This should be motivation enough for black people to advocate against the war on drugs—but we can make it as urgent to whites. However, the idea must be sold as benefiting them more concretely than moral absolution. We must put it that ending the war on drugs will mean they don't have to feel guilty about black people anymore.

Whole thing here.

Hat Tip: Frequent H&R commenter Dave Gallaher

Cathy Young and Mike Lynch interviewed McWhorter for Reason back in 2001.

Judge Jim Gray lays out the Six Groups (count 'em!) That Benefit From the Drug War for Reason.tv:

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  1. Of course the drug war was also cheered on by enlightened whites hoping to save urban blacks from the ravages of crack and heroin.

    1. Which is exactly why the sentence for crack possession was, what, five times that for powder cocaine?

      Tough love is tough.

      1. I believe it was exactly why the sentencing disparity existed.

        The idea was that drug dealers in black neighborhoods were essentially responsible for Urban decay. They were destroying entire neighborhoods. Therefore they were to be dealt with harshly.

        Powdered cocaine merely went to desperate housewives in neighborhoods which were largely immune from such shenanigans.

        1. Coke was also the real deal for Wall St. high rollers in the 70s and 80s, but of course those people never have any influence on policy.

          1. Dude, coke is the real deal for Wall St in the 90s,00s, and 10s, too. And they retained that non-influence on policy.

      2. Whoops, haha, I was wrong.

        According to the Oracle @ Wikipedia, the sentencing disparity between crack and powder used to be 100:1. It has now been reduced to a mere 18:1.

        1. Diminishing Unfairness is the new Fairness.

    2. Of course the drug war was also cheered on by enlightened whites hoping to save urban blacks whites from the ravages of crack and heroin-using blacks.

      FIFY

      1. Kind of. While racism is always an easy explanation, I do believe that there were well-meaning [white] people who geniuinely cared about what was happening in minority urban neighborhoods.

        Good intentions certainly don’t excuse the dire results though.

        1. Good intentions? Those white motherfuckers in City Hall don’t care about all these niggers that can’t find jobs. They just want to keep us locked up like animals. Ain’t nobody gonna look out for us ‘cept us.

          Say it: “Am I my brother’s keeper? Am I my brother’s keeper? Am I my brother’s keeper?”

          1. I love when Pooky gets high and starts playing with the girls’ tits in the packaging room.

            1. I call that Tuesday.

          2. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

            When you put your brother in a cage, yes, you are.

    3. I seem to recall it was black-community leaders, NOT white-hooded Klansmen, who first demanded harsher penalties for crack vs. powder cocaine possession, on the alleged theory “penalizing black drug users far more harshly than white ones will ultimately empower the black community.” (Saudi Arabia follows a similarly enlightened view toward female emancipation.) I’m still half-convinced certain alleged “leaders of the black community” are actually David Duke in blackface. I’ve certainly never seen them standing together in the same room.

      1. ^THIS^

        Well the first sentence anyways

  2. End the drug war? Why not end the tobacco war first? Can’t smoke in some sidewalks, beaches, parks, some condos, stadiums, parking lot hospitals… can’t smoke e-cigarettes on planes, chewing tobacco is being banned from baseball and offices, you have to be nicotine free for two years to be a cop, etc, etc, etc.

    http://libertarians4freedom.blogspot.com/

    1. Hold your breath…I agree with you. My car salesman a few years ago asked us if he could dip while we test drove this car, and neither my wife nor I minded at all (we think it’s gross, but hey, it’s his life, so knock yourself out). He told us he moved here (Texas) from California, where they actually have laws against dipping in public even though there’s no second-hand smoke hazard.

      He said he found the attitude of people here, who found dipping to be a non-issue, not even worth noticing, to be remarkable. I was reaffirmed in my hatred of California.

      1. Yeah, but at least we can go to great breweries and wineries and buy the shit we want.

        Sorry, had to do it.

        1. ?

          We can here, too. That particular brewery is not located in Texas, but many others are, and I go to one about once a month (for the “tour”).

          We have some decent wineries in West Texas, though only decent…nothing compared to what’s in Cali, of course.

          And, (I have to say it), I can afford more whenever I get there since my cost of living and taxes are so much lower : P

          1. No, you can’t buy beer on premises at a brewery to drink off-premises in Texas. It’s crap. They changed that law to allow it for wineries, but not (yet) for breweries. It sucks, and makes it a lot harder to make make money as micro-brewery. It’s part of the screwed-up three step selling tiers setup they have here.

            1. Ah, I was thinking just about drinking the product at the brewery, then asking them which local stores carry the product. Since I took home product from the winery, I guess I never made the connection that I wasn’t also able to do so from the brewery. I suppose it’s a bit more hassle than just buying it there, but not too much of one.

              Though of course you are quite right; it’s a stupid law anyway because it prevents the freedom of action between the brewery and myself. Good to know though; I wasn’t aware of that particular law.

              1. Now, the funny thing is, if you run a brewpub, you can sell beer for off-premises consumption, but you can’t sell it to third parties like liquor or grocery stores to sell for you. It’s either or. But the breweries, like St. Arnold, are lobbying for that to change, so… *fingers crossed*

                1. There’s a bill that would allow breweries to “give away” two cases of beer for customers who pay for a tour. Ridiculous government intervention in the marketplace for the benefit of beer distributors.

          2. And, (I have to say it), I can afford more whenever I get there since my cost of living and taxes are so much lower : P

            You win this round….but I’ll be back!

      2. Good story, my company just banned dipping and we’re in Tennessee. Stupid PC is everywhere, sometimes it’s the goddamm HMO’s telling companies “we’ll lower your rates if you do this and that.”

    2. Because people don’t get sent to prison for smoking tobacco in their own homes..yet..

  3. So Ruthless is “frequent.” Like SugarFree. But not “beloved.”

    Is there a chart somewhere explaining all of this?

    1. Is there a chart somewhere explaining all of this?

      Even if there were, it won’t take the pain away.

    2. There is a chart, but for some reason Tulpa’s not on it.

      1. Yes he is.

        Right there under ‘incontinent’.

  4. “…but we can make it as urgent to whites. However, the idea must be sold as benefiting them more concretely than moral absolution. We must put it that ending the war on drugs will mean they don’t have to feel guilty about black people anymore.”

    I never did feel guilty about black people. Why should I, as that in and of itself would be racist. The idea must be sold as, “Immoral laws are unjust and therefore should be ignored and repealed”. Playing the race card is counterproductive.

    1. I’m sure most people who frequent this website would agree with your assessment. That being said, most of the people here and the folks they support lack any political capital whatsoever to make these kind of changes happen.
      If you want change, you have to give the religious right and the nanny-state something on which to hang their respective hats. This line of argument is just an attempt at coming up with something to move in that direction.

    2. Because a lot of people are racist. Acknowledging that is not counterproductive. Most people don’t buy into things being immoral or unjust. They are more about the perceived benefits of a policy.

    3. Well, this is what happens when I show up late to a thread.

      I don’t feel “guilty about black people” either. The concept, put so nakedly, makes me kind of woozy.

      Let me be clear: this is a marketing gimmick aimed at regressives.

      1. Do you have a better way to sell them? Something better to trade with them? I don’t mean “better” in an ivory-tower sense, I mean something they’d value more.

  5. Another benefit: even less justification for over-fed, over-armed, under-educated cops to play pretend commando in the form of SWAT teams.

    1. You better put your dog somehwere safe, Restoras…

  6. More folks in jail is less folks on unemployment.

    1. Which costs the taxpayers more: housing a person in prison or giving a person unemployment benefits? Don’t forget, too, that many people would have jobs if they weren’t in prison, so that would help the labor market.

  7. We should just note that because of disparate impact, every political official that supports the drug war is a closet Jim Crow racist, or an Uncle Tom enabler.

  8. R.I.P., Macho Man Randy Savage
    *pours out bottle of body oil*

    1. [tosses part of a Slim Jim on the curb]

      Heart attack while driving according to his brother, “Leapin'” Lanny Poffo. I hope his wife was blowing him at the time. That wouldn’t be a bad way to go.

  9. However, the idea must be sold as benefiting them more concretely than moral absolution.

    Of course this is true, white people could give a shit about the moral implications of their actions… now tell them it is going to effect their pocket book, tell them it will close down The Gap, tell them it will cost them more at the gas pump to fill up thier faggoty mini-van on their way to some faggoty line dancing…. THAT will get their attention.

  10. Sort of a good point, but a little condescending towards the spear chuckers. Like saying they can’t help themselves, they need white people to help them.

  11. I’m happy to see that the Reason crowd is still a bunch a nigger-hating fascists.

    1. Spoof or not, you have to be evil to type that post. Mercy, not even stupidity is that base and vile.

    2. Tony,

      Is that because you love nigger-hating fascists, or because you need nigger-hating fascists to exist to justify your guilt?

    3. Has to be spoof or self spoof.

      If this is the real Tony my only response is:

      What the fuck man?!?!

        1. Maybe I shoulda said “spear chuckers.” My bad.

          1. If you are going to spoof Tony or anyone for that matter please make it obvious.

    4. Tony is a legit liberal; he opposes the drug war strongly, afaik.

  12. “….allow generations of inner-city blacks to grow up without thinking of the cops as an enemy…”

    Then the inner cities will see economic gains, and its inhabitants will start buying pets. Which will be shot by the cops.

  13. I have to say, I absolutely “the race card”, but I hate the drug war even more.

    I am not convinced that playing on white guilt will enhance efforts to end the drug war because I am not convinced that whites have any sense of guilt about the situation of black people; I know I certainly don’t.

    The best reason to end the drug war is economic: stop wasting money on futile efforts, stop wasting money on imprisoning people, etc.

    If I thought whites could be racially guilted into opposing the drug war, I would (somewhat unhappily) go along with the ruse, but I don’t believe race baiting will work.

    1. See, I think the economic argument for ending the drug war s a distant second to the moral crisis of imprisoning people who hurt no one but possibly themselves.

      I only break out the economic argument for moralists who believe that people need to be harmed to prevent them from harming themselves.

      There are white people who feel guilty about the socio-economic condition of blacks. They are typically lefty urban yuppie types. You may not be one of them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

      So while you may not find the racial argument compelling, and I may not find the economic argument compelling,and they may not find the moral argument compelling, it is important to develop every possible argument to appeal to everyone on their own levels.

      1. Actually, Hugh, I agree with your point about the moral crisis. I guess I should said the best practical reason to end the drug war…

        I just want the WOD ended, by any means, which is why I said that I am reluctantly willing to along with the race-baiting angle if that will work, even though I detest the race card.

      2. Drugs CAN harm people. Some people they harm a lot.

        But in this case the cure (drug war) is worse than the disease. When you point it out in examples, I think most people would ‘get’ it.

        1. We don’t want people to lose their jobs because of their addiction so INSTEAD we will put them in jail.

        2. (a recent example) We don’t want kids to be harmed seeing their mother sell pot, so INSTEAD we will take the mother and throw her ass in jail and leave the kids without her.

        3. We don’t want anyone to overdose on drugs so INSTEAD we do a no-knock raid on an innocent person by mistake, kill the family pet and terrorize the family.

        4. We don’t want someone to have long term health effects associated with drug use, so INSTEAD we will shoot them in the back as they are fleeing a drug arrest.

        The drug war is about putting people in jail, killing them, and even get non-drug users caught in the crossfire just so that we can ‘help’ people. Drug addicts unite and let your all loving government know that “it’s ok, we don’t need your protection, you’re KILLING us!”

        1. I agree with all your points except number 2. Had the mother from that story not named her child Ja’zalynn , you would make a much more compelling argument.

          1. Racist! 😉

            If we put away all the parents that give their kids dumb-ass names, dress them funny, etc. we’ll need to build a LOT more prisons.

            1. Haha. You stereotype people too easily. There was no picture with that story, so I have no idea what color the woman or her daughter are.

              What color are you assuming they are for naming their kid that horrible name? And what does that say about you?

              1. hmm, you’re right. I must be a racist 🙁

              2. According to Roland Freyer, parents who give their children a “distinctively black” name are most likely to be “an unmarried, low-income, undereducated, teenage mother from a black neighborhood..” He also says that the fact that kids with shitty names tend to be failures in life isn’t because of their name, but because they were raised by the kind of parents who would give them that name in the first place.

            2. Especially that woman who named her son Shithead (pronounced Shih-theed).

        2. One minor edit:

          We don’t want anyone to overdose on drugs so INSTEAD we do a no-knock raid on an innocent person by mistake, kill the family pet and terrorize the family and kill them.

          1. I was trying to figure a way to sneak the family dog into it, and remembered that mayor who was the victim of mistaken identity and had his dog summarily executed.

        3. Your list isn’t bugs, it’s features.

        4. What the supporters of such action think is that many more are deterred than are harmed, and that when deterrence fails that’s always a tragedy, but worth it for the number of times deterrence works.

      3. See, I think the economic argument for ending the drug war s a distant second to the moral crisis of imprisoning people who hurt no one but possibly themselves.

        Distant 2nd in what terms? What if a large fraction of the world consists of sadists?

    2. I am not convinced that playing on white guilt will enhance efforts to end the drug war because I am not convinced that whites have any sense of guilt about the situation of black people; I know I certainly don’t.

      I don’t think the idea is that all or even most whites feel guilty, but that certain whites feel guilty, and that this segment is a key one to swing over to fill in a winning coalition, and a segment that could not be won otherwise. Possibly another segment is people who can be led to believe that legal narcotics will be an effective nigger population control measure.

      It’s like a friend of mine who was fighting a 2-front battle against “the anti-semites in California and the Jew bastards in New York”.

  14. We must put it that ending the war on drugs will mean they don’t have to feel guilty about black people anymore.

    And so goes the reason why the left will never give ending the drug war any real look.

  15. I also think that marijuana comes first. there is apparently substantial support for legalizing MJ. as a practical matterm, legalization of other drugs ought to be a separate issue.

  16. Thanks to Nick for the hat tip.
    The key to ending the War on Drugs is to get about half the black folks to agree it needs ending. Michelle Alexander and John McWhorter working hand-in-hand on this very issue is big, good news.

  17. Is there evidence that blacks and whites don’t already agree that ending the drug war is a GOOD idea?

    1. The fact that it still goes on.

  18. How about getting the blacks to read old issues of Ron Paul’s newsletter? They’ll say to themselves, “That cracker wants to be president? Fuck, he must be skmonking somethng.” That’ll get a coversation started. What is the old fuck smoking?

    1. Fuck, he must be skmonking somethng

      Occasionally, you are mildly entertaining in your illiterate idiocy.

    2. “That cracker wants to be president? Fuck, he must be skmonking somethng.”

      RAAAACCCCIIIISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSST!

    3. yur messed up with all those thoughts of raun phaul’s kochtopussy.

  19. Unfortunately I’m so far down the legalize it path that I don’t even understand how anybody can be FOR the drug war.

    It’s immoral and ineffectual. What the fuck more to people want? If all it takes is the promise of white absolution, then praise baby black Jesus, I’m on board.

    1. My feelings exactly.

  20. Alright, I was interpreting this a different way. Since I did, I will point out my other racist way of looking at this. In addition to those white folks who might “feel guilty about black people.” You also have the large ( though overlapping) segment of racist whites who are afraid of black people and see them as all criminal ( 95% according to one old cracker), fleet-footed or not, drug dealers who carry guns and want to kill whitey. If you remove the criminalization of drugs and the black market, in addition to the white-liberal guilt altruistic bullshit about seeing black males stay with their families and get “good jobs,” you also reduce/eliminate the “scary black guy” who haunts all the white racist assholes. It’s a little bit harder to view blacks as a bunch of gun toting drug dealers if they aren’t. And the white racists wont have to worry about crackfiends mugging them and all that good shit.

  21. wayne said: “Is there evidence that blacks and whites don’t already agree that ending the drug war is a GOOD idea?”
    How about the fact it’s still going on? That evidence enough for you, wayne? Thanks for playing.

    1. No, that evidence is not good enough. So, are you saying that, “if only black folk would oppose the WOD, then it would end”? I suspect the percentage of blacks who oppose the WOD is about the same as that of whites.

      1. I suspect the percentage of blacks who oppose the WOD is about the same as that of whites.

        It’s not the % of blacks that support or oppose the drug war that’s important. What matters is the % of black leaders that continue to support the WOD so they can keep blacks under their thumb. Their insatiable thirst for power and their hypocrisy go hand in hand. You ever see Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton call for a blanket end to the WOD? Hell no! However, you will see them regularly railing against the cops when a poor black kid gets 12 years for sitting in a car with a crack pipe and a guy with a gun.

        You take away the WOD and you take away their power. Since they can’t have that, they will continue to play both ends against the middle and will talk about how whitey, nay Jew whitey, enslaves the blacks with drugs yet only complains when it’s a black kid he can exploit that gets killed by the cops or gets an absurd sentence.

        Case in point: when are they gonna show up to protest the sentencing of that (Indian) lady who named her kid Ja’zalynn? My guess is never.

        1. The CA chapter of the NAACP endorsed prop 19…

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