Recently, Harper’s Magazine released a 22-year-old interview with long time Nixon adviser Drug War co-architect and Watergate co-conspirator, John Ehrlichman. In his day, he was a piece of… work. You can look that up yourself with the links provided.
The point of this article is the money quote from Harper’s:
“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.”
First, I would like to say a hearty F*** you to Harper’s Magazine and author Dan Baum for sitting on this quote for two decades. Nixon’s launch of the War on Drugs coincided with the birth of the modern Conservative Movement. But, it was far from a coincidence. The Drug War simultaneously demonized the Black Community, victimized and plundered it. The Conservative Movement used this feat to methodically erode the gains of the Civil Rights Movement.
Black people knew from the beginning what the Drug War was all about. We said it at every turn. The numbers proved us correct. The attitudes of government and law enforcement bodies showed us that they knew their practices were slanted. We were expected to believe that it was all an illusion, and there was something wrong with us culturally or even genetically. We rightfully rejected this. The social and economic terrorism continued unabated.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the tracks television, movies and the evening news vilified us night after night. Make no mistake; this was intended. White America readily swallowed it hook-line-sinker. People still believe much of this crap to this day. They believe it as an article of faith. No amount of data or peer-reviewed studies will change their minds. Article for another day…
The War on Drugs used Federal funds and agencies to attack the Black community. This was clearly illegal. Need proof? (Hat tip: @Fixer_Guy)
18 U.S. Code § 242 – Deprivation of rights under color of law
“Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.”
We have the admission of wrongdoing; we have execution of illegal behavior and a very clear statute that was violated. Can you say Reparations? In a sane world, some legal and economic remedy would be on the table. However, racism in America is quite literally insane. Therefore, we will continue the fight for justice.
Author’s Note: This article was supposed to be full of righteous indignation. All I could muster was a profound sadness.