If you thought some of the things being spewed by Donald Trump and his supporters were vile–they are, but just for some perspective–the following might make you puke. Rightfully so.
As part of a bigger story called Legalize It All, Harper magazine writer Dan Baum‘s strategy to win the “war on drugs,” John Ehrlichman, an advisor to former President Richard Nixon and one of Nixon’s Watergate co-conspirators, speaks frankly about the Nixon administration’s motives behind the nation-altering “war on drugs.” The quote is actually from a conversation Baum had with Ehrlichman in 1994, long after Nixon’s administration, Watergate was over, and Ehrlichman was busy handing out copies of his infamous 1976 spy novel, The Company. From Legalize It All:
At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “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.”
“The Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people.” That is a tidbit calmly recollected by someone who stood next to the leader of the free world and developed policy. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time someone–appropriately, might we add–suggested that 1970’s drug policy was drummed up using the most crooked and discriminative ideologies imaginable, but to see a former close confidant of one of the most notable Commander-in-Chiefs in American history matter-of-factly reveal that to a journalist is…well…”disturbing” would be a gross understatement.