The Judge is Wise. Watch this video.
Via Ed Brayton, Judge Jim Gray, a conservative California judge with lots of experience fighting drugs, says the present policy benefits drug lords and terrorists among others. After laying out his case, Jones concludes the most patriotic thing he can do is work to repeal drug laws:
I like how the judge has to lay out his hardass bonafides before launching into his anti-prohibition arguments. “I’m not a dirty hippie, dammit!” Nixon to China and all that. Hey man, whatever it takes!
Then there is the social justice argument that he leaves largely unsaid. I caught some of this interview with Michelle Alexander last week, laying out the racial angle of the War on Drugs, and it’s pretty appalling.
The war on drugs waged in these ghetto communities has managed to brand as felons millions of people of color for relatively minor, nonviolent drug offenses. And once branded a felon, they’re ushered into a permanent second-class status, not unlike the one we supposedly left behind. Those labeled felons may be denied the right to vote, are automatically excluded from juries, and my be legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, public benefits, much like their grandparents or great grandparents may have been discriminated against during the Jim Crow era.
The war on drugs, contrary to popular belief, was not declared in response to rising drug crime. Actually, the war on drugs, the current drug war, was declared in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan at a time when drug crime was actually on the decline. A few years later, crack cocaine hit the streets in poor communities of color across America, and the Reagan administration hired staff to publicize crack babies, crack mothers, crack dealers in inner-city communities, in an effort to build public support and more funding, and ensure more funding, for the new war that had been declared. But the drug war had relatively little to do with drug crime, even from the outset.
The drug war was launched in response to racial politics, not drug crime. The drug war was part of the Republican Party’s grand strategy, often referred to as the Southern strategy, an effort to appear—appeal to poor and working-class white voters who were threatened by, felt vulnerable, threatened by the gains of the civil rights movement, particularly desegregation, busing and affirmative action. And the Republican Party found that it could get Democrats—white, you know, working-class poor Democrats—to defect from the Democratic New Deal coalition and join the Republican Party through racially coded political appeals on issues of crime and welfare.
Lovely. Part II of the interview is here.