Class and the Drug War

Via Andrew, here's an interesting post riffing off support for the drug war among minorities:


One of the few "successes" (and I'm speaking ironically here) of the drug war has been to convince people that the negative effects of prohibition are actually the negative effects of drugs. People see violence on the street and say "that's because of drugs" when, in fact, it's because of the drug war. 

And so they call for more enforcement even though (as we know) that won't help the problem but rather make it worse. And, quite frankly, this issue is much more visible out on the streets in poor/minority neighborhoods than in affluent neighborhoods where the drug trafficking takes place discretely in the country club locker room.

This comes off the relatively low support for marijuana legalization among minorities. I'd like to see more polling on other components of the drug war before drawing hard conclusions. But with that said, I think the point about violence is right on.

No one likes seeing their block turned into the Wild West. But when a civilian gets clipped, a kind of blood-rage brews and people tend to support all punitive action against the source of said clipping. I'd love to go back into the 70s, 80s and 90s and see some polling among minority communities on anti-crime measures. I would not be shocked if there had been relatively decent support in minority communities. 

That aside, I also think when you live in a community where there isn't much of cushion for drug abuse, you're skeptical of any effort to make drugs more accessible. If a cocaine habit is, for you, not just something that can cost a job, but something that leaves families homeless, prohibition likely sounds quite reasonable.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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