Source: USA Today
Pubdate: Wed, 14 June 2000
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2000 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Contact:  1000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington VA 22229
Fax: (703) 247-3108
Author: Greg Goldmakher, Dallas, Texas


Thank you for writing about the Human Rights Watch report on the war on 
drugs.  The racial disparities in sentencing brought to light by the report 
are not surprising when one realizes that the war on drugs has from it 
inception been a means of suppressing minorities in the USA ("Study:" War 
on drugs is stacked against blacks," News, Thursday).

Drugs associated with particular ethnic groups were outlawed in a conscious 
effort to control those groups.  Hamilton Wright, who helped promote the 
first federal drug laws in the early part of the 20th century, used this 
reasoning to support cocaine prohibition: Cocaine is often the direct 
incentive to the crime of rape by blacks, he said (The New York Times, 
March 11, 1911).  Other like Wright used similar language when they talked 
about opium use by Chinese or marijuana use by Mexicans.

The prohibition of alcohol, the psychotropic drug of choice for the white 
majority, was quickly seen for the disastrous failure it was and 
repealed.  Consideration for minority rights never has been a major issue 
for our politicians, so the prohibition of other drugs is still believed to 
be a viable policy option instead of an impossible and racist farce.

Greg Goldmakher Dallas, Texas 
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