Eduardo Porter has a good piece about how the U.S. prefers to spend money on mass incarceration than other nations despite still having a higher crime rate and despite the harms these policies inflict on prisoners’ children, thus perpetuating the cycle. But in trying to explain why the U.S. has become so punitive, he ignores the early history of the War on
Some People Who Use Certain Drugs:
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.
“Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
As more histories of the last half century are written, they will increasingly be written at the Nixon Administration’s expense–and rightly so. That was when the War on Drugs hysteria was resurrected. And we are still paying the price for that madness.