The “war on drugs” is actually a way for the federal government to target “black people”, a former Nixon White House adviser admitted a few years ago.
John Ehrlichman, who acted as counsel to former President Richard Nixon, explained the unfortunate use of the policy in a new article for Harper’s: “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”.
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“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,” Ehrlichman, who served time in prison stemming from a conviction related to his role in the Watergate scandal, plainly told Baum.
The “War on Drugs,” a loose term defining the U.S. government’s law enforcement efforts to combat the use and trade of illegal drugs, was coined by the Nixon administration, which put into place several enormous anti-drug measures that defined the “war” for years.
In 1971, Nixon labeled drug abuse “public enemy number one” and passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act to put into place several new laws that cracked down on drug users. He also created the Drug Enforcement Agency.
For decades, civil rights activists have pointed to sentencing disparities that incarcerated crack cocaine users for far longer periods of time than powder cocaine users, as evidence that many of the policies developed by Nixon were unfair to African-American communities.