Pubdate: Mon, 25 May 2015
Source: Journal-Inquirer (Manchester, CT)
Copyright: 2015 Journal-Inquirer
Author: Chris Powell, managing editor of the Journal Inquirer.


Republican state legislators want an apology from Governor Malloy for 
what they construe as his accusation that they are racist for 
opposing repeal of the law establishing 1,500-foot "drug-free" zones 
around schools, whereby mere possession of drugs is made a felony 
nearly everywhere in cities, where most blacks and Hispanics live, 
but not so much in suburbs and rural towns, where most whites live. 
While the governor, a Democrat, was not obliged to apologize for what 
he didn't quite say, he might have remembered that soft words turn 
away wrath and expressed regret for misunderstanding. That would have 
facilitated repeal of the questionable drug law instead of 
engendering resentment of repeal.

Of course combativeness is the governor's style, but there also may 
have been political calculation in his comments about racism.

For the governor is not popular even in his own party and is always 
looking for opportunities to enthuse the party's base. So he 
frequently injects himself in national controversies, attacking those 
Republicans who seem the most politically incorrect at the moment.

The Republican state legislators' resentment of the governor's 
suggestion of racism had to cheer politically active blacks and 
Hispanics in the cities.

While they have little to show for a half century of the "war on 
poverty," these days complaints of racism can excuse every failure by 
government or racial minorities themselves. Indeed, enough complaints 
of racism may make residents of Connecticut's cities forget that the 
Democrats, supposedly the party sympathetic to racial minorities, 
have been in complete control of state government for five years and 
so could have repealed the racist drug law any time they found the courage.

As the Connecticut Post's Ken Dixon notes, the fate of the drug 
legislation will be decided not by Republican legislators, a minority 
in the General Assembly, but by "fraidy-cat Democrats" from the 
suburbs who don't want drug policy to be an issue in the next 
election and don't want to have to explain its failure and, yes, 
racism. The funny thing is that outside Connecticut many leading 
Republicans, like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, are making the failure and 
racism of drug criminalization their own issue.

But Connecticut Republicans seem stuck with their merely reflexive 
response here even as they often bemoan their inability to develop 
any rapport with racial minorities in the cities, half of whose 
members, because of drug criminalization, are either in prison or on 
parole or closely related to someone who is. Republicans already know 
and sometimes admit that decades of urban and welfare policies have 
only worsened conditions in the cities.

Drug criminalization is one of those policies.

It has not reduced drug abuse, probably because the contraband 
premium it creates makes the illegal drug trade irresistibly 
profitable to the poor, whom welfare policy has kept poor by 
destroying the family.

No, drug criminalization has become mainly another entitlement, a 
government jobs program for police, prosecutors, prison guards, 
parole officers, and social workers, most of whom are members of the 
government employee unions that control the Democratic Party. For 
many years Democrats have not cared how many young black men are put 
in prison as long as the other half could be hired as guards.

It has been a lucrative business all around.

If Connecticut Republicans still can't see this, they should, as the 
New Haven and Hartford pastor Boise Kimber proposes, help amend the 
law so that it becomes a felony to be in possession of an illegal 
drug not just within 1,500 feet of a school but within 10 miles of 
one, and then deal with their suburban and rural constituents when 
half of them are caught or closely related to someone who has been 
caught in the criminal-justice system for what, however troublesome 
individually, is a crime against no one but himself.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom