Was Nixon’s Battle on Medicine A Racially Motivated Campaign?


Was Nixon’s wrestle on medicine a racially motivated marketing campaign? It’s a bit further subtle. Share All sharing selections for: Was Nixon’s warfare on medicine a racially motivated marketing campaign? It’s a bit further tough. Final week, the online exploded with a fairly surprising allegation: President Richard Nixon began America’s warfare on medicine to criminalize black of us and hippies, in keeping with a newly revealed 1994 quote from Nixon residence protection adviser John Ehrlichman. The accusation was surprising, characterizing the warfare on medicine as a racist, politically motivated marketing campaign. However Ehrlichman’s declare might be going an oversimplification, primarily based on historians who’ve studied the interval and Nixon’s drug insurance coverage insurance policies significantly. There’s little doubt Nixon was racist, and historians instructed me that race may need carried out one perform in Nixon’s drug warfare. However there are moreover indicators that Nixon wasn’t solely motivated by politics or race: For one, he personally despised medicine – to the aim that it’s not beautiful he would wish to rid the world of them.

And there is proof that Ehrlichman felt bitter and betrayed by Nixon after he hung out in jail over the Watergate scandal, so he may need lied. Extra importantly, Nixon’s drug insurance coverage insurance policies did not give consideration to the type of criminalization that Ehrlichman described. As an alternative, Nixon’s drug battle was largely a public nicely being marketing campaign – one which might be reshaped into the modern, punitive drug battle everyone knows as we communicate by later administrations, notably President Ronald Reagan. None of that signifies that the drug battle hasn’t disproportionately injury black Individuals. It clearly has. Nevertheless the courses of Nixon’s drug insurance coverage insurance policies might be not so much that he was a racist, energy-hungry politician – although, as soon as extra, he was – nonetheless pretty that even effectively-which means insurance coverage insurance policies can have large, horrible unintended penalties. Let’s start with what Nixon really sought to do when he launched his battle on medicine. The speech that started the formal wrestle on medicine in 1971 did not focus solely on criminalization. As an alternative, Nixon devoted a number of his time to talking up initiatives that may enhance prevention and remedy for drug abuse.

The numbers once more this up. According to the federal authorities’s funds numbers for anti-drug functions, the “demand” side of the battle on medicine (treatment, education, and prevention) persistently acquired further funding all through Nixon’s time in office (1969 to 1974) than the “present” side (laws enforcement and interdiction). Drug protection historians say this was intentional. Nixon poured money into public nicely being initiatives, equal to medication-assisted treatments like methadone clinics, coaching campaigns that sought to cease youngsters from attempting medicine, and additional evaluation on drug abuse. In precise reality, the Managed Substances Act – the premise for lots of modern drug protection – really decreased penalties on marijuana possession in 1970, when Nixon was in office. David Courtwright, a drug protection historian on the College of North Florida, knowledgeable me. Certainly, the person tapped to show into the nation’s first drug czar and oversee federal drug insurance coverage insurance policies was Jerome Jaffe, a doctor who on the time was engaged on enhancing drug habit treatments in Chicago.

Jaffe embraced the place, worrying that it was solely a matter of time until the warfare on medicine grew to develop into further punitive. To some extent, Nixon’s hand was pressured: Thought of one among his giant concerns on the time was heroin habit amongst Vietnam Battle troopers, of whom 15 to twenty p.c had drug points. Nixon would, however, shift to the next think about the laws enforcement side of the battle on medicine over time. Why that shift occurred might help make clear Ehrlichman’s quote. Over time, Nixon did shift further in the direction of the regulation enforcement side of the battle on medicine, considerably when it turned politically helpful. However Nixon’s personal motives aside, it’s solely believable that he was tapping proper right into a broader movement instead of creating his private merely to criminalize constituents and different individuals of positive races whom he disliked. In 1972, for instance, Nixon’s reelection bid sought to grab longstanding points about black crime and drug use amongst white Southerners – in what’s now often called the “Southern approach.” To do this, Nixon shifted to the exact on medicine with a tricky-on-crime platform.

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