President Richard Nixon’s chief domestic adviser during the 1971 launch of the “war on drugs” said that he invented the president’s drug policies so that the administration could neutralize its enemies, specifically “the anti-war left and black people,” according to an article in Harper’s Magazine.
John Ehrlichman, who served 18 months in prison for his role in the Nixon White House’s Watergate scandal, reportedly bared his (dark) soul to journalist Dan Baum in 1994, and those words made it into Baum’s April Harper’s cover story, “Legalize It All.”
Ehrlichman, an integral part of the Nixon White House, an administration notorious for its abuse of power (again, Watergate), reportedly referred to the anti-war left and blacks as enemies of the Nixon regime, and outlined a method by which it “could disrupt those communities”:
“ … We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
The journalist then writes, “I must have looked shocked. Ehrlichman just shrugged. Then he looked at his watch, handed me a signed copy of his steamy spy novel, The Company, and led me to the door.”
Baum said that Ehrlichman seemed ready to “unburden” himself when they spoke. Ehrlichman died in 1999.
Given the kid-gloves disparity seen in the government’s response to the current, “whiter” heroin epidemic, and the fact that the black community was heavily criminalized and severely disrupted via the drug war, we know that Ehrlichman’s words were definitely prescient. But planned, systematic racial targeting?
Maybe you should give that friend of yours who always has some “conspiracy theory” another listen.
Read the entire piece at Harper’s Magazine.