Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Cato Institute: "How the War on Drugs Is Destroying Black America"

I was actually legitimately surprised to see this article mailed to my mailbox today:

The main obstacle to getting black America past the illusion that racism is still a defining factor in America is the strained relationship between young black men and police forces. The massive number of black men in prison stands as an ongoing and graphically resonant rebuke to all calls to “get past racism,” exhibit initiative, or stress optimism. And the primary reason for this massive number of black men in jail is the War on Drugs. Therefore, if the War on Drugs were terminated, the main factor keeping race-based resent- ment a core element in the American social fabric would no longer exist. America would be a better place for all.

I have friends who I know would disagree with alot of the premises there. (Black conservatives are long derided, and even defined, by their dismissing the presence of racism.) Nevertheless, a headline like "How the War on Drugs Is Destroying Black America" is really pretty rough and hard hitting for the Cato Institute.

That Cato would put it is as their showcase article, written by New Republic contributor John McWhorter, illustrates that they may be trying to really break from the race-baiting, impenetrable border creating lot that passes itself off as "libertarian" at Tea Party rallies and Glenn Beck marches. (With a potential history creating disaster averted at an MLK rally in Spokane recently,the Cato Institute's decision to appeal to the Left seems even smarter.) Cato (and its similar satellites at Reason) all too often are riddled with articles like "Austerity Doesn't Mean No Growth" or "The Science of Libertarian Morality," which quite frankly have little appeal to the broad public that doesn't define their identity as "libertarian."

As for the substance of McWhorter's argument, it is succinctly put when he argues "the main factor keeping race-based resent- ment a core element in the American social fabric would no longer exist." This is usually illustrated in progressive terms by comparing the warehousing of black America (which usually starts in public schools that aren't too different from prisons) to a modern day form of Jim Crow, as is done in this lecture series, the advertisement for which I took a photograph of at the Central District YMCA in Seattle:



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