War on Drugs and the Black American Family
By Scott Rohter, March 2011
What’s Wrong with the Libertarian Idea of Legalizing Drugs?
Author and lecturer John McWhorter writes in the Winter, 2011 issue of the CATO Institute’s newsletter, that the War on Drugs is responsible for destroying Black American families. I disagree with him. I think at the heart of his opinion is a shifting of the blame for what has really gone wrong, and this is what is actually responsible for the disintegration of the Black American family unit. This shifting of personal responsibility is also what is wrong with Libertarian ideology! It’s not the War on Drugs that is destroying Black families in America! It isn’t really even the drugs themselves that are wreaking all of the destruction, although they are certainly not helping the problem. The same thing can also be said about guns. You’ve heard it said that guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Well, drugs don’t destroy families, and the War on Drugs isn’t destroying families either! People are destroying their own families! Drugs are just a devastating tool in the arsenal of their own self destruction.
So why not just legalize all drugs then? Well, that's because this is about as far as the gun comparison goes! Guns have some redeeming value. They can be used to hunt with, to defend one's self, to protect one’s family and property, to deter crime, and to save human life, not to mention the fact, that it is our Constitutional Right to possess fire arms. (2nd amendment) There is nothing inherently corrupting about owning a gun! But there is no redeeming value whatsoever in possessing illegal street drugs! You can’t hunt with them or defend yourself with them, or protect your family with them. And they don’t save life or deter crime! They only destroy people’s souls, and corrupt a society! What is destroying Black families in America today is the lack of solid, moral and religious family values! It is a lack of character. It is the lack of personal responsibility that is at the root cause of all of the Black American family problems, just as it is also at the root cause of all of the White American family problems. In fact, it is at the heart of all of the problems faced by all of the families in America today, whatever their color! Character or the lack of it doesn’t have anything at all to do with race or skin color!
No one is forcing any American, White or Black, to shoot heroin, snort cocaine, or smoke dope, nor to sell any of the soul corrupting drugs. Mr. McWhorter is trying to revive that tired old argument that was born in the Garden of Eden, “the Devil made me do it!” In this case 21st Century White Society made Black Americans do it. “It’s because our ancestors were brought to America in shackles long ago against their will. That is why we are doing it.” Perhaps it is really because they can make a lot of money by doing it. That is really why they do it. Excuse after excuse after sorry excuse, and they keep trying to pin the blame on someone else! This is the kind of faulty reasoning that is employed by McWhorter, and it goes all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. “It’s not my fault”, the man said to God. “The woman you gave me, she made me do it!” OR “It’s not my fault God”, said the woman. “The serpent beguiled me, and he made me do it!” (Either way, someone else made them do it. So it’s not their fault. Just blame someone else).
You should be ashamed of yourself Mr. McWhorter for even making such a preposterous argument, and for defending what is clearly indefensible. For pushing this dopey position around the country, you clearly aren’t much better than the drug dealers themselves, who are peddling their dope around on the streets! You are just helping to enable young Black men to keep on denying their real problem. The real culprit in this tragedy isn’t the drug dealers, although they are certainly not without their share of the blame. Nor is it the police. (They are definitely not to blame!) No one is forcing any American, White or Black, to shoot heroin, snort cocaine, or smoke dope! Look in the mirror Mr. Drug Dealer or Mr. Drug User. Take a good long look at yourself. All of you Black or White American junkies and pill pushers should stop blaming someone else for what you are doing to yourself!
If you are Black, stop blaming White Society! I know we make a big, fat, convenient target for you to pin the blame on all of the time. We are so used to being blamed for everything, that we actually think that we deserve it, but it won’t help you to blame someone else for what you have done to yourself! It won’t strengthen your character. It won't put food on your table. It will only serve to strengthen your dependency! Neither does it help to blame someone else for what some other member of their race might have done to your ancestors a long time ago. That isn’t fair either! And besides that,we are all members of the human race! It won’t help you to blame ‘Whitey’ today for the fact that your African ancestors were held captive in their ancient homelands and brought to America against their will. You might as well blame other members of your own race, for selling them into captivity in Africa! But what good is all of this blaming going to do for anybody in America today?
My ancestors were once slaves In Egypt. They were forced to build pyramids for the Egyptians, against their will! So what! Who cares anymore! It’s the same thing with your ancestors who were brought to America long ago and forced to work on the cotton plantations. It is ancient history. It’s about time to forget it. I don’t smoke dope or sell drugs today, and then try to blame it on the fact that my ancestors were once slaves in Egypt! I don’t make such ridiculous excuses for my behavior. And it sounds just as pathetic when apologists for Black drug dealers and Black drug users try to excuse their bad behavior by saying that their ancestors were once slaves in America!
If you are a Black drug dealer in America today or an addict, don’t blame anyone else but yourself! You are the real reason for your own self-destruction. Accept responsibility for your behavior.It is your lack of principles. It is your lack of values. It is your lack of character, virtue, and self-esteem that has caused you to go down this path! You chose it. You own it! Man up! Perhaps you think that you don’t have to play by the same set of rules that everyone else has to play by? Because your ancestors were forced to endure great hardship and deprivation, maybe you think that somehow entitles you to a free pass? Well, you are wrong! It doesn’t entitle you to be exempt from normal social standards! “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That still applies to you! “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That still applies to you. Even if some of our White ancestors did a horrible job of showing those virtues to your fathers and grandfathers, it still doesn't exempt you.
Your own resentment towards White America, and your palpable hatred for everything that you identify as White, is dividing and destroying our country! Is that what you want? I assume you feel that this is your country, because after all you are still living here. You haven’t returned to Africa, although you are certainly free to leave any time you want! No one is holding you here against your will, as was done to your ancestors. So I assume that in spite of everything else, you still feel that this is your country! And you love it, like I do. So do you really want to divide, weaken, and help destroy your own country? How long will you continue to blame White America for what Black Americans are doing to destroy themselves, their families, and their own communities?
If you are a Black drug dealer or drug user in America, you should blame yourself for giving in to temptation! You can’t begin your journey to success and normalcy, until you first accept personal responsibility for your own behavior, and your own bad decisions! Don’t say the Devil made you do it, or it’s “Whitey’s fault” , or it’s because you had the misfortune of being the descendant of African slaves. Your ancestors actually did suffer at the hands of others, but they weren't always White people! Some of them lived in miserable conditions, and all of them endured the real pain and suffering of slavery, for which most Americans are truly sorry! But on the contrary, your existence in America is nothing like theirs was! You were born a free man or woman in the greatest country on Earth, and in the greatest social experiment that the world has ever known! Abraham Lincoln wrote in the Gettysburg Address that, “We are testing whether any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.” By the way we are still testing this theory today, and we are still waiting for the answer too. Can we endure?
But you have endured nothing like what your ancestors were forced to endure. You have probably suffered no major hardships in your life, other than those that you have caused yourself, by your own bad choices! So stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop hating others! Stop whining and scapegoating other White people! Someone said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” You are certainly your own worst enemy! So get up! Dust yourself off. Put your big chip down, and your best foot forward! Reach out to others and someone will eventually extend a hand back to you. It might not be the very first person that you meet, but it will happen. Most Americans understand that we are all in this together. Deep down in our hearts we realize that we are all Americans, no matter where we came from, or how we got here, as long as we came here legally! We know that we are all effectively considered equal now under our Constitution, as we have always been equal before our Creator. We cannot move forward as a nation if we leave so many of our own people behind!
But the hatred and the resentment that many Black Americans feel toward White Americans, however well deserved it is, it still hinders our forward progress as a nation. If you hate mongers in the Black community truly love your country as I hope that you do, then you need to let go of your hate, for the sake of our common destiny! It is not only holding our country back, it is menacing the Black community, destroying Black families, and hurting you personally! You should try to banish the shameful memory of the distant past, but you absolutely must put your hatred of Whites behind you, that is if we are ever going to move forward together as one nation! I don’t accept the false premise that Mr. McWhorter presents, that the War on Drugs is destroying Black American families. I believe that some Black Americans are destroying themselves, and they are being destroyed by their own hate, their own self-loathing, and their hatred for White America. Any prospect for healthy Black families in America is being destroyed right along with them!
The next false premise in Mr. McWhorter’s pathetic argument to legalize street drugs and make them cheap and affordable, is that the War on Drugs discourages young Black men from seeking legal employment. His argument goes something like this. Since drugs are illegal, their prices are high because of the high risk involved in selling them. There is BIG MONEY to be made in selling illegal drugs! Who can blame a poor young Black man if for becoming a drug dealer and falling victim to a life of crime? But if we just legalized all street drugs and took the risk away, then the price of drugs would come down, and because there would no longer be so much money to be made in selling drugs, than a poor young Black man would have no incentive to go into a life of crime. Before you know it, he would just get a job at McDonald’s flipping burgers!
What a pathetic argument this is. He might have no further incentive to sell drugs, but a morally bankrupt human being would just find some other high paying, high risk, illegal activity to engage in, and that wouldn’t help any Black families! The Libertarian philosophy is to try to legalize every form of disgusting, detrimental, and destructive human behavior. But I just don’t buy it! Back to the poor, young Black man, who just can’t seem to resist the temptation of selling illegal drugs on the streets, because there is so much money to be made and after all, if he doesn’t do it then somebody else will! So who can blame him, right? Wrong! Let me get my violin out so I can play right along with Mr. McWhorter as he whines and continues to make excuses for sin, moral degeneracy, and a general lack of character!
So what if selling illegal drugs is more lucrative than a decent, legal job! Does that mean that Black women should all become prostitutes because they can make more money selling their bodies on the street, than by typing, nursing, or waiting on tables? According to Libertarian ideology they probably should! According to Libertarians we should legalize all street drugs because there will always be a certain percentage of Black Americans, and White Americans too, who don’t know the difference between right and wrong, and who will never obey the laws. But by that logic why should we have any laws at all? Why not get rid of them all. I’m sure Mr. McWhorter , being the fine Libertarian spokesman that he is, would probably like that! But I don’t! Most people know the difference between right and wrong, and I refuse to enable those who don’t, by telling them like McWhorter does, that it is not their fault, that they are not responsible for their own bad choices, and they can just blame them on somebody else!
But even if we did legalize drugs, and removed the risk of buying and selling them, and if we made them all cheap and readily available, how would that even begin to help Black families? Plenty of people would still be buying and selling drugs of course. Even more people would be using them. And since these drugs are addicting, most of those who use them would become addicts! The demand for drugs would probably skyrocket once they are cheap, and we will have created a new problem! We will have created an economy of size and scale instead of a limited high risk market where drugs were illegal and expensive. We will have actually increased the demand for the product by reducing the cost, and there would still be plenty of money to be made in selling drugs on the street because of the high volume of sales. So why would a poor young Black man want to get out of the drug business, especially if it was all perfectly legal too! No more jail time, no more court costs! No more attorney’s fees! It would even be more profitable than it was before!
Making street drugs cheap and legal would not help those engaged in their manufacture, distribution and sale, and the use of drugs to know the difference between right and wrong ! That is always the problem with the Libertarian argument! That is why I have a real problem with Libertarians after while! Libertarian political philosophy is fine up to a point. Libertarian positions on limited government and freedom are fine as far as they go, but freedom comes with a large dose of personal responsibility! You can’t maintain freedom without both limited government and personal responsibility! These are the twin core values upon which freedom stands! If you remove one or the other, then freedom cannot stand! Libertarians as a rule don’t seem to have a strong sense of moral certitude. They don’t like to make moral judgments. They don’t seem to have a strong sense of right and wrong! I am beginning to wonder whether some Libertarians even believe in God at all. It seems to me like they just believe in liberty and limited government, but not much of anything else. Their political philosophy is flawed!
Mr. McWhorter further states in his article, that The War on Drugs makes doing hard time in jail, a badge of honor in the hood. Hooey! If any Black American actually thinks that being in prison is a badge of honor, it isn’t because there is a War on Drugs that they believe that! It is because they harbor a deep seeded hatred of White America, and because their moral values have been corrupted by their hate! They would also need to have a twisted sense of personal self-esteem and self-respect! McWhorter continues, America should legalize marijuana, reduce the penalties for the possession of crack cocaine, and make the prices for all street drugs so cheap that drug dealers can’t even make a decent living selling them. Then he thinks that they will all just go out and get a legal job like the rest of us. Candy bars are cheap, yet people still make a decent living selling them. How pathetic is that argument?
The question begs to be asked then. How stupid is stupid? Making drugs cheap and legal isn’t going to stop people from growing or manufacturing them, and from selling or using them. The only thing that might change if we made drugs cheap and legal is that there would probably be a different group of growers, manufacturers, and sellers in order to contend with an economy of size and scale. And more people would be addicted to drugs, not less! Just like it was with alcohol after it became legal. More people will became users, and more people became alcoholics. Big corporations got involved in the production, marketing, and the distribution of the product, and so more people are consuming alcohol today than ever before!
Alcohol is available at liquor stores, restaurants, and grocery stores all over America. Maybe Libertarians like McWhorter, who want to do the same thing with street drugs like marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, speed, meth, LSD, and all of the rest, only want to do this so they can become the first ones to get in on the ground floor of the legal recreational drug business! The Libertarian motto is to make drugs cheap and legal, and tax the hell out of them! That sounds like a marketing plan to me! That is the Libertarian vision for the future, one where you can pick the poison of your choice, at any corner convenience store, and there is plenty of it to choose from!
"A journalist has no better friend than the truth." - Scott Rohter