Nixon aide admits Blacks were targeted but does anyone even care?
A “tell us something we don’t know” sentiment is circulating throughout Black America with an admission that America’s War on Drugs was designed to target Blacks, along with anti-war activists.
The major question: Who will be held accountable? The disheartening and likely answer: No one. So, what are Blacks to do about the news, a shocking bombshell to some and run of the mill admission to others?
“America has created an environment, particularly as it relates to race, that makes us think we’re overly paranoid and downright crazy when we see certain things. And when we have enough sophistication to know what it is, when we see a construct that is not normal appear, they try to convince us that it is coincidence,” said Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad, author and educator.
Blacks have witnessed this time and time again, he said, so the comments by John Erlichman, a former aide to President Nixon came as no surprise. In the 1980s, Blacks cried out against mandatory minimum sentences, and federal sentencing guidelines, arguing all were vehicles to expediently build the prison industrial complex, he noted.
“Folks said it was a figment of our imagination, that it didn’t happen like that,” Dr. Samad recalled. When Blacks said drugs and guns were planted in their community in the 1990s, there were again denials and disbelief, he continued.
“We need a revolution. We actually need to get rid of this system,” said Carl Dix of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of Generation and the Revolutionary Communist Party.
Blacks are often told if they get behind the right candidate, the problem will be dealt with, but even after helping to elect and re-elect the first Black president, nothing has been done about conditions Blacks face, Mr. Dix told The Final Call.
Mr. Ehrlichman, an assistant to former President Richard Nixon, told journalist Dan Baum: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did,” Mr. Baum reported.
The author has released the quote (which he obtained during a 1992 interview for his book, “Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure”) several times over the years.
But recent fallout came after he again released it in Harper’s Magazine’s April cover story (“Legalize It All: How to win the war on drugs”).
Mr. Baum told The Final Call he understands how the quote could be seen as extremely racist. However, he does not think Mr. Erlichman was speaking from a place of racism.
“I don’t think he was saying, ‘We hate Black people so we’re going to go f—k ‘em up.’ He was saying, we had a political problem. Black America was hostile to us,” Mr. Baum said.