Vermin

Radley Balko with more good stuff:

Daniel Chong is the entirely predictable result of dehumanizing drug offenders

“Drug people are the very vermin of humanity.”

– Myles Ambrose, director of the Office of
Drug Abuse Law Enforcement during the Nixon Administration.

After discussing several cases (including Daniel Chong and Jonathan Magbie, Radley concludes:

It’s important to understand that these stories aren’t the product of rogue cops, jail officials or prosecutors. For 45 years now, the government has been waging an all-too-literal war on drugs. Since antiquity, great leaders have known that to win a war — to condition the population to be comfortable with all the violence and sacrifice that winning requires — you first dehumanize your enemy. Understand that, and you’ll begin to understand why the DEA had no safeguards in place to protect Daniel Chong but plenty of safeguards in place to protect the privacy of the DEA agents who almost killed him.

This same dehumanizing of the enemy extended to those “traitors” who dared to give aid and comfort to the enemy by suggesting that there was anything wrong with this war.

Back in a 1999 Congressional hearing on drug policy in Washington, DC, here’s what some of our representatives, sworn to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, had to say:

“Legalization is a surrender to despair,” said Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, Republican of upstate New York. “It cannot and ought not be any topic of serious discussion in our nation’s debate of the challenges of illicit drugs.”

Suggesting the depth of hostility toward the notion of legal drugs, Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., asked whether anti-racketeering laws could be used to prosecute people conspiring to legalize drugs.

That’s right. Congressmen actually suggested that opposing the drug war cannot even be discussed and that those who do so should somehow be prosecuted.

This is the kind of hostility that those of us who chose to stand up sometimes faced (and that made many in the population afraid to speak up).

There really was that “vermin” notion that speaking out for legalization of drugs was somehow akin to legalizing child abuse, and that drug offenders were not worthy of the considerations you would give to “real” people.

A lot, fortunately, has changed since then (Bob Barr even changed). But that historical ugliness still persists in certain quarters.

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