Why Won't Obama End the War on Drugs?

After 40 years, we've failed to bring the illegal drug trade under control. But the administration won't even consider a real change.

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Truly -- they simply cannot think this, and do not. Yet Holder, when asked recently whether he thought ending the war on drugs would cut down on the deaths of police officers, mumbled, "I don't think that's right ... " and walked away (watch that one here). This willful lack of attention to such an urgent problem is one of the few ways in which the Obama administration seems callous at this point.

Not to mention, just plain fake: The Hoo-bama analogy goes further. Hoover privately liked a postwork drink and had previously cultivated a wine cellar; meanwhile, LEAP's report properly notes, "The Obama administration, like at least the two that preceded it, is led by people who used illicit drugs and went on to have productive lives. It is a source of great shame that none of these presidents took real steps to end a policy, which, if fairly administered, would likely have prevented them from entering politics in the first place."

Put it this way: Obama could get people like West off his back and be a meaningfully pro-black president -- not to mention a bracingly pro-human one -- by addressing the war on drugs for real. No more lip service, such as Holder's dutifully hoping for another season of The Wire, despite his apparent lack of interest in actually putting to use the show's lessons about the drug war. The Wire's creator David Simon hit the bullseye in saying that he and co-creator Ed Burns would be happy to launch a new Wire season if the Obama administration would get real about the war on drugs.

We should let President Obama know that the time has come, in large numbers. Over the past week, more than 2,500 people have sent letters to him about the drug war through LEAP's website (you can, too, right here). As the LEAP report notes, "Our President is chasing change. He needs to catch up."

John McWhorter is a regular contributor to The Root.

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John McWhorter is a contributing editor at The RootHe is an associate professor at Columbia University and the author of several books, including Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America and Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English.

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