Blacks in America have long been victims of the state and its allies. From slavery to the war on drugs, laws which prevent a person using his own body and property as he sees fit, have had terrible effects on generations of black folk. Initially, the oppression of blacks was widespread and decentralized. This required a different set of strategies from the widespread, centralized oppression of today. Many blacks are concerned when the matter of rolling back the federal government is broached. It is undeniably true that the various state governments of the past supported terrible atrocities against black people. At such a time, political strategies had to be developed to deal with the most pressing threat. As the political winds have changed, so too must the strategies change, even for those who believe in the legitimacy of government.
The war on drugs is the most pressing legal issue facing black people. Racial profiling, raids on homes which result in death and oppression, such as the cases of Kathryn Johnston and Corey Maye, are directly attributable to the war on drugs. States and localities have been moving in the direction of decriminalization for marijuana for decades. The federal government has been opposing such measures for the entire time. A Presidential candidate’s position on the war on drugs is the first legitimate political litmus test I have seen within my lifetime. The issue is serious, affecting the lives of millions. It is something which calls into question the most fundamental of all human rights: the right to treat your own body as you see fit. Of all the major Presidential candidates, one, and one alone has called for an end to this scourge to the black community: Ron Paul. The other candidates are unconcerned, in favor of the drug war, or too cowardly to speak. Ron Paul has shown the courage of his convictions through his unabashed opposition to the drug war.
Laws against drug use are no more justifiable than anti-miscegenation laws. They are laws which attack the root of the notion that all men are created equal by establishing that some have the right to rule over others, and those others have no similar right. What other justification is there for preventing an adult from inhaling, ingesting, or injecting the chemical of his choice into his own body? A large portion of the black prison population is imprisoned because of drug offenses. Many of those who are imprisoned for other offenses, such as property crimes and violent crimes are there as a result of the various violent consequences of the war on drugs. Ron Paul does not claim to be able to fix all this. As President, he can only Constitutionally stop the federal war on drugs, not those in which the states engage. But removing federal support for drug prohibition could have a tremendous impact nonetheless. First, it would obviously mean that some people would no longer be imprisoned. No more federal drug charges and federal prison time for drug offenses. Also, the timbre would be set for states to follow suit. There have already been several states which have indicated interest in backing off the war on drugs, and our neighbors to the north and south have also indicated this willingness. It is easy to imagine California and Montana, for example, completely legalizing marijuana, and perhaps extending that legalization to other drugs as well. Right now, federal drug raids are a major problem for legal marijuana vendors in California.
In his appearance on Tavis Smiley’s All-American Presidential Forum, Ron Paul impressed me immeasurably with his ability to actually address this extraordinarily important issue. While other candidates either refuse to show up, or divert attention from their unwillingness to actually do things clearly within their power as President, Ron Paul spoke clearly to what he supported. How many other candidates have expressed any desire whatsoever to actually eliminate a law? How many have expressed concern over what the government is doing to oppress the very people it is charged to protect? How many actually criticize the government for evil which the government itself perpetuates? The answer is one. The answer is Ron Paul.
January 2, 2008