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.
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: