Strategic Suicide: The Birth of the Modern American Drug War - Buy on Amazon

Shamanism and the Drug Propaganda: Patriarchy and the Drug War - Buy on Amazon

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Strategic Suicide: The Birth of the Modern American Drug War: Black Fiends


"Negro Cocaine 'Fiends' are a New Southern Menace!" screamed Dr. Edward H. Williams in The New York Times, Feb. 8, 1914, while Harrison was in committee. Old Doc Williams didn't let the facts stand in his way: "But I believe the record of the 'cocaine nigger' near Asheville, who dropped five men dead in their tracks, using only one cartridge for each, offers evidence that is sufficiently convincing."

"Nine men killed in Mississippi on one occasion by crazed cocaine takers, five in North Carolina, three in Tennessee - these are facts that need no imaginative coloring. And since this gruesome evidence is supported by the printed records of insane hospitals, police courts, jails, and penitentiaries, there is no escaping the conviction that drug taking has become a race menace in certain regions south of the line." At right, Williams' ally, Dr. Hamilton Wright, author of the Harrison Act.


Dr. Edward H. Williams and Dr. Hamilton Wright

It seems to me that, from the Black perspective, the achievements of the cocaine nigger were an endorsement of cocaine. Obayi, in the Akan language of Ghana, means witchcraft; it is counteracted with myal, spirit possession for the purpose of identifying and prescribing the curative herbs. The captive African obeah and myal women and men of the West Indies teamed up to defend their enslaved culture. An 1891 Scientific American article, "Obeah Poisons and Poisoners," expresses the usual progressive compassion:

"There is probably no locality where Anglo-Saxon civilization is now waging so active a warfare in this direction as in the British West Indies. There the colonial governments are brought face to face with the Obeahman, whose skill with native poisons is supplemented by a certain rude acquaintance with the pharmacopoeia, and whose sway over his debased followers is practically absolute."

"Obeah, the worship and propitiation of the eternal snake as an emblem of evil, long ago degenerated into a series of obscene orgies among its West Indian followers....it suffices to say that the result is to bring into great demand the services of the 'bush doctors,' as those uneducated charlatans are called who brew simples from the wild herbs at hand. This is not to be wondered at when we find that there is but one educated physician to every 12,300 of inhabitants, by far the greatest proportion of which are spread over stretches of wilderness, and what wonder that 'bush physic' is all that the ignorant, neglected negroes ever receive?"


The New York Times, Nov. 23, 1920

The Southerners feared woman suffrage led logically to Black suffrage, and they had the votes to stop it. But the church ladies, who closed every WCTU meeting with their marching song, "All Around the World," sung to the tune of "Old Black Joe," argued that only the votes of educated "American" women could save the South now.

The church ladies were strong allies of the anti-labor Anti-Saloon League. Southern factory owners and cotton planters hated unions at least as passionately as their Northern brethren, and they came to rely on the wholesome influence of the church ladies. The WCTU's Frances Willard herself had stressed that the problem with labor was not so much "how to make higher wages" but "how to turn present wages to better account." What that was supposed to mean to a sharecropper with starving children is beyond me.   This ruthless bourgeois condescension was the prevailing attitude among the Southern Suffragettes and WCTU's.  If they were what White female power was about, the South was all for it.


Southern WCTU poster; NYT, 12/3/1919

For those who think that the rationale of American drug law isn't inherently racist and anti-tribal, or that it's different than the industrial fascism of alcohol Prohibition, we have the KKK-supported Rep. Richmond P. Hobson of Alabama. In the 1920's Hobson was the most famous anti-heroin crusader in the country. In 1911 Hobson was the man who introduced what became the Eighteenth Amendment, Prohibition, in Congress.

One of Charlie Rangel's favorite lies is that Drug Prohibition and Alcohol Prohibition are separate issues engineered by separate forces. They were, in fact, part and parcel of the same political program engineered by exactly the same individuals, most of them anti-Black racists.


The Literary Digest, 6/24/1924

Rep. Hobson of Alabama was the Anti-Saloon League's most popular and highest paid speaker. The assumptions of his astounding arguments are all written into today's drug law. Here are some excerpts from his speech introducing what became the Eighteenth Amendment, Prohibition, on Feb.2, 1911:

"If a peaceable red man is subjected to the regular use of alcoholic beverage, he will speedily be put back to the plane of the savage. The Government long since recognized this and absolutely prohibits the introduction of alcoholic beverage into an Indian reservation. If a negro takes up a regular use of alcoholic beverage, in a short time he will degenerate to the level of the cannibal. No matter how high the stage of evolution, the result is the same."

"In our great cities like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia the ravages upon the average character have been so great, so many degenerates have already been produced, that the degenerate and corruptible vote not only holds the balance of power between the two great political parties and can dictate to both, but actually holds a majority of the votes, so that honest and efficient self-government as a permanent condition is now impossible. Immigrants coming in vast numbers from abroad remained chiefly in the cities. As young as our Nation is, the deadly work of alcohol has already blighted liberty in our greatest cities."

"If America degenerates the yellow man will be on hand. Some may make light of the yellow man; so did Romans make light of the 'Barbarians.' The yellow man is not degenerating. He can shoot as straight as a white man now, and undegenerated he can live on one-tenth of what is necessary for the white men while they are in the field doing the shooting. A race of degenerates cannot occupy the American continent."

"In America we are making the last stand of the great white race, and substantially of the human race. If this destroyer cannot be conquered in young America, it cannot in any of the old and more degenerate nations. If America fails, the world will be undone and the human race will be doomed to go down from degeneracy into degeneracy till the Almighty in wrath wipes the accursed thing out!"

God, they loved him in Alabama. In the 1920's he founded the International Narcotic Education Association, with a board of directors of prominent industrialists and an advisory council of cabinet secretaries, governors, mayors, district attorneys, bishops and ambassadors, but not one reputable addiction expert. Having gotten his alcohol Prohibition, he decided that the fate of "the race" rested on defeat of the new "Great Destroyers" - all herbal and alkaloidal inebriants, advocating precisely the policies we now have in place, Draconian law enforcement combined with unrelenting propaganda:

"We need to preach the gospel of narcotic abstinence from the pulpit, to flash it on the screen, to enact it on the stage, to proclaim it from the public platform, to depict it in the press, and, above all, to teach it in our schools./All constructive social agencies will help in fighting this peril - in setting up in the minds of all the same abhorrence that is felt for a venomous snake..."



All the measures Hobson advocated for the inner cities are now law. Our prisons are full of exactly the people Hobson thought belonged there. We don't say "nigger" anymore, of course, we say "drug dealer," so much more scientific; Hobson stopped saying "nigger" too. In Good Housekeeping, March, 1914, the progressive Dr. Wiley worried about "Negro peddlers."

In the yellow press the single most common synonym for "nigger" was "drug dealer" or "addict," as in the sharp-shooter from Asheville; these words are racist code to this day. Anyone who thinks that racism isn't a major factor in contemporary American politics should try living in the hick White sticks for a while; it's enough to make you puke. If the Drug War were doing to the White community what it's doing to the Black, it would have ended years ago.

William Moffitt of The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, agreeing with the defendants in a case before the Supreme Court that the statistical evidence proves racially biased enforcement, was rebutted on the Today show, 2/26/96, by Attorney General Janet Reno. Reno, also determined to out-Republican the Republicans, insisted that "crack is a tremendously violence-inciting drug," and that therefore the Republican hicks have it right. How is that a defense against selective enforcement? Niggers are violent?

Crack is cocaine stretched and rendered smokable by heating it with baking soda and water. The resultant crystals "crack" when heated. This simple cutting technique makes it much cheaper than powder, since it is not only diluted in an edible base, but smoked, a much more efficient method of ingestion than snorting.

In December of 1990 Judge Pamela Alexander in Minnesota's Hennepin County Court threw out the crack possession convictions of five Black defendants as racist. Minnesota's Office of Drug Policy had officially concluded that there was no pharmacological difference between crack and powder, and therefore, concluded Judge Alexander, the Draconian sentence for crack was culturally, or economically, prejudicial.

A 1989 government study of all 193 "cocaine-related" murders in New York City concluded that 87% grew out of fights over money or dealing territory, and almost all the others were also alcohol-related. In only one case was the perpetrator actually high on coke. Professor Goldstein's study of New York's 218 "drug-related" murders during 8 months of 1988 came to exactly the same conclusion. In only one case could cocaine be shown to have actually been a possible pharmacological contributant to a homicidal mania. If cross-examined, Attorney General Reno will no doubt proudly admit that she knows nothing at all about pharmacology.

It is true, of course, that if you smash Snoop Doggy Dogg in the face with a nightstick while he's smoking some crack he's liable to get violent. That's what made Black Panther Fred Hampton so dangerous. Back in 1969 Hampton threatened to politicize the several thousand members of Chicago's Blackstone Rangers. With an organization like the Panthers, that could have been the beginning of a nationwide, street-level legalization, anti-police brutality and anti-selective enforcement movement with fangs. The Stone Rangers took no prisoners. Unfortunately, the FBI was on the scene with a really well-financed COINTELPRO run by some of the best espionage agents in the country. Hampton was set-up and assassinated by the FBI working with the Chicago Police.

The FBI had no trouble using its intelligence tricks to convince the Blackstone Rangers that they were being betrayed by the Panthers. Those kids were hungry streetfighters, not philosophers, and hungry kids do fight like junk yard dogs over money. That's older than the Purple Gang, which started out in an East Side Detroit high school and ended up delivering Capone's biggest loads of Canadian whiskey via their Little Jewish Navy. Moe Dalitz and Jimmy Licavoli of the Purples went on to glorious careers in Cleveland and Las Vegas.


Two articles side-by-side, NYT, 4/22/1922

The Wasp industrialists said it was all because of the Kikes and the Wops, and even the Micks, Krauts and Pollocks when they could sober up enough to put up a fight. Prohibition, of course, is still in force. Only the alcohol part has been repealed. Now it's all the fault of the Spics, Gooks and Niggers.

Since young Black men fit the "profile," they can't go anywhere without being constantly rousted. Everywhere, on highways, in bus depots, train stations, airports, suburban neighborhoods, the rate of Black or Hispanic police stops to White police stops is something like 10 to 1. In 1995, 75% of stops made by Maryland State Police on I-95 involved people guilty of driving while Black.

The Sentencing Project reported, 10/95, that one-third of all young Black men were under judicial restraint - jail, prison, parole or probation. The figure for Whites, still way too high, hovers around one-twentieth. The figure for Holland, which employs prescription rather than proscription, hovers around one-hundredth.

As of early 1994, 1500 Black Americans per 100,000 were behind bars. The figure for Whites was 210 per 100,000. As of 1997, the U.S. had an incredible 645 people per 100,000 behind bars, while rates in countries such as Canada, France, Germany, Finland, Sweden and Australia varied from 40 to 125 per 100,000. Our imprisonment rate is comparable only to the world's worst police states. 60% of all federal, and 25% of all state prisoners are there on drug charges.

Blacks comprise approximately 13% of the American population. In 1993, 2.3 million Black men were sent to the slammer while 23,000 received a college degree - that's a hundred to one. That's what's fascistic about all that "role model" propaganda - the 1% are "role models" - the 99% are "dealers." By mid-1997 there were 100,000 federal prison inmates and 1,060,000 state prisoners - and another 600,000 in municipal lock-ups - and 51% of them were Black.

"We'll just have to put up with it," say Rangel and Jackson, more concerned about mythical poison than police racism or brutality. "Taking drugs is a sin," says Jesse, a Dope with Hope. "Since the flow of drugs into the U.S. is an act of terrorism, antiterrorist policies must be applied." That's just what Hobson said, and that's just what L.A. police chief Daryl Gates did, telling the Senate that "casual drug users" should "be taken out and shot." Well, beaten to a pulp with nightsticks, anyway.  Has this brutality made the situation better or worse? The racist hammering young Black men take behind the drug laws is intense and constant, driving many of them nuts with hostility.

By not fighting the militarization of American culture, the conformist Black politicos collaborate in the diversion of billions that should be going into structural sweat-equity anti-poverty programs, to which they pay only lip service. Instead, they help the fascists demonize their own young. This has not only confused the Black community, but split it right down the middle, completely destroying the unity that made it such a formidable force during the days of the civil rights struggle. The criminalizatioin of African sacraments was a basic part of the of the cultural genocide necessary for enslavement. The Rastafarian memory of history is simply photographic. But, since Jackson and Rangel are adamantly amnesiac, they can only peck around the edges of policy.

Charming Charlie Rangel, the D.A., made a career of throwing "my people" into prison before he became the Black Richmond P. Hobson. Jackson, at least, consistently uses the word "fascist" to describe the dope dealers, but, since he is an unempirical theocrat, has absolutley nothing original to offer in the way of policy. He quite rightly calls for "an urban policy" while, at the same time, in the same sentence, calling for "a real War on Drugs." If he were a baseball player, his nickname would be "Clueless."

Jackson consistently portrays African-American culture as if it were composed entirely of middle-class Baptists. I never hear the Rastafrians I smoked with in the back of so many subway cars mentioned. The largest mass-movement in African -American history was overtly shamanic, overtly tribal African. Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association was an awesome force throughout the Caribbean, North and South America in the 1920's. Those Africans revered their ancient tribal sacramentalism.


Sacramental Africa, Asia, c.1930
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