Don Hazen, veteran progressive and currently the main man at AlterNet, (plus a good guy and friend of Disinformation), has penned a compelling editorial on the drug war:
Ethan Nadelmann is one of a handful of marvelously charismatic and motivating speakers within the liberal and progressive universe. He talks creatively and emphatically about race, class, gender, corruption, power, human rights, immigration and the devastating impact of prison-industrial complex on all aspects of society, all progressive touchstones. Yet relatively few people know who he is, or follow his efforts. Why? Because he has devoted his life to transforming America’s attitudes and laws about drugs, which is no easy task, and often a thankless one.
There exists a complex, almost paradoxical attitude toward drug use and the ramifications of “drug war” repression among many progressives. Even Baby Boomers, many who successfully navigated a journey through their own drug experimentation as they came of age, often overreact to the possibilities of their own childrens’ experimentations with drugs. And in the case of our last three presidents, all who used drugs, the consistent stance is to go out of their way to avoid any acknowledgement of any positive role that drugs play in our society, or even seriously consider a less destructive approach, which would be the legalization and regulation of drugs. President Obama, who has been quite honest about his personal drug use, nevertheless has been somewhat dismissive about even modest reforms concerning pot — a drug far less dangerous than the alcohol and cigarettes, which pervade our society and generate billions of advertising dollars to maintain dependencies and widespread social use.
The way our country deals with illegal drug use — a behavior that has been with humans since the beginning of time — has truly become a civil rights and human rights issue in our midst, as millions are arrested each year in an overwhelmingly racist, and uniquely American crusade against personal choice and liberty. Hundreds of thousands are in jail on drug charges, even for simply smoking pot or possessing it in the wrong part of the country, or being tricked by cops, as young people frequently are in New York City. Meanwhile we can attribute much of the development of the surveillance state, the huge allocation of funds to combat issues of fear, the massive numbers of security personnel we have in our midst, mainly on two things — 9/11 and the “war on drugs.”
[continues at AlterNet]