Editorial: Hate Mongering 2/8/02

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David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 2/8/02

When I first heard about the government's SuperBowl ad buy attempting to link drug use with funding of terrorism and violence -- kids saying things like "I helped murder families in Colombia" or "I helped kidnap people's dads" or "I helped kids learn how to kill" -- I wasn't at all surprised. I fully expected the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to dishonor our slain and profiteer off of this tragedy for their own purposes, and the extreme repulsiveness and dishonesty of this particular ad seemed right in character with the drug warriors' standard modus operandi.

Don't get me wrong. Some drug use does indirectly contribute to terrorist activity. Not most of it, but some of it to be sure. But so does oil consumption -- minivans, SUVs, cars, motorcycles, home heating, the works -- not most of it, but some of it. Even if Osama bin Laden wasn't directly involved in the oil business, the contracts awarded to his family's construction company had to ultimately be paid for by something. And oil money created the rich Saudi dictators who fund the plethora of extreme religious fundamentalist schools and institutions throughout the Middle East that have fanned the flames of hatred and legitimized terrorist activity in the eyes of many from those societies, attempting through such "philanthropy" to purchase a cheap legitimacy that autocracies can never earn in any deeper sense.

Still, it is true that buying drugs on the illicit market does help to fuel a wide range of unsavory activity both within and without our borders. It would be morally one-dimensional to deny this. But if the individual user of heroin or cocaine does help to "kidnap people" or "murder families" -- grotesque hyperbole at best -- the government has effectively facilitated all such violence. It is the government that prohibits drugs, and it is only this illegality that causes drug money to be associated with violence any more than regular money. After all, why does opium grown in Australia for pain medicine and anesthesia contribute nothing to global violence, while opium grown in Colombia or Afghanistan or Burma for illegal heroin does? The plants are the same, only the laws are different. And pathological or not, that money also provides employment to a lot of people who in truth have no other realistic opportunities for employment. During a recession of all times, this shouldn't be hard to understand.

After September 11th, we in the drug reform movement wrung our hands and agonized for weeks over whether or how we should draw attention to the role that drug prohibition plays in funding terrorism. I believe that the work done on that issue since then, by allies such as Common Sense for Drug Policy, Drug Policy Alliance, ReconsiDer, even a little bit here at DRCNet, has shown intellectual integrity and has been done with tact and respect to the victims and their survivors. None of this can be said about the ONDCP's propagandistic, hate-mongering advertisement.

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Issue #223, 2/8/02 Editorial: Hate Mongering | DEA Backs Off a Bit on Hemp Foods, Extends "Grace Period" Before Ban for 40 Days | The Bush 2003 Drug Budget: More of the Same, More for Colombia, More for the DEA | DRCNet Interview: Noam Chomsky | Bush Administration Seeks to Widen Colombian Intervention as Human Rights Groups Denounce Abuses | Federal Judge Throws Out Glow Stick, Pacifier Ban in New Orleans Rave Case | Cincinnati Again Asks Federal Courts to Revive Drug Exclusion Zone | Backlash Emerges as Texas Drug Task Forces Run Amok | Seismic Shift in Sentencing Policies Underway: Declining Crime Rates, Budget Woes Cited | Media Scan: Alan Bock, Arianna Huffington, Foreign Policy in Focus, ABC News on Hemp Foods | Alerts: HEA Drug Provision, Bolivia, DEA Hemp Ban, SuperBowl Ad, Ecstasy Legislation, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | The Reformer's Calendar
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