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Honor the Fallen in “The Other War”

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

June 15, 2010

By Perry Redd

This country has seen 5,478 deaths in the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan in the past 8 years of these conflicts.  Americans have been reminded constantly that the toll taken on the families and loved ones is grossly unreported.  I tend to disagree.  For one to question the war, is often mistaken as an attack on the ones fighting it—an intentional misleading by more conservative-minded people.  What I am here to talk to you about is the “fallen” in the other war: the war on drugs.

In the war on drugs, I refer not to law enforcement, but to the defendants—the men and women who spend years of their lives in jails and prisons across this nation. The ones fighting for fair trials and reversed wrongful convictions.  In both wars, the fallen have volunteered; they have committed to do—if not for their country, then by their country—an action that is seen by some as either popular or unpopular.  Depending on where you stand, you may see the acts committed by both participants as necessary.

Men and women who join the military often join because they have to generate income, feed their family, pay rent or find life’s direction; men and women who are subjected to the drug trade often do so to generate income, to feed family or pay rent, which often turns into life’s direction.  The parallels are eerily similar.

The war on drugs has failed. And it’s high time to replace an ineffective strategy with more humane and efficient drug policies.  It is inhumane to separate families (sorta like slavery, huh?) as punishment for an external condition—i.e., drug addiction—punish people for “feel good” experiences.  Of course, we know that exponentially more users go to prison than traffickers.  Just in that point alone, we’ve missed the objective.

Prohibitionist policies based on eradication, interdiction and criminalization of consumption simply have not worked. Violence and the organized crime associated with the narcotics trade remain critical problems in our country—not to mention, South of the Border. Latin America remains the world’s largest exporter of cocaine and cannabis, and is fast becoming a major supplier of opium and heroin. Today, we are further than ever from the goal of eradicating drugs.

But more to my initial point, there are victims of this misguided and mischaracterized effort: American families; in particular, black families suffered the worst.  Now, some may not care, some may not mind, but I do.  There are many progressives who also do—black, white or indifferent.  Because of the disparate numbers, it’s also a race thing.  The drug war was designed to target blacks.  The progression of blacks in the seventies was a threat to be thwarted by the conservative resurgence in the eighties…and it worked.  Though it worked, it’s wrong.  It’s un-American, immoral, illegitimate, racist and unconstitutional.

Aside from correcting erred policy, I want tribute paid to a wronged population of people…my people, American people.  Black Americans have suffered at the hands of an evil design.  White Americans who are my friends, stand up and call wrong wrong.  There are fallen brethren among you.  Come out from under the cowardly veil, honor the fallen and call for an end to the drug war.

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