War On Drugs 3.4
February 23, 2018
War On Drugs 3.6
March 8, 2018
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Part five of War on Drugs series, still looking at the history of cocaine up until 1930, asking the cui bono – who benefited from the ban on cocaine?

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Show Notes:

  • Johnny Cash’s cover of the old T. J. “Red” Arnall song from 1947 Cocaine Blues from his live Folsom Prison album.
  • So that’s a song about a guy who snorts some cocaine, then kills his wife, goes on the run, gets caught and goes to prison.
  • I like how at the end of that song, the convicted prisoner advises his fellows to stay off the cocaine, not to murder, mind you, but to avoid the cocaine; but he seems ok about the murdering your wife part.
  • And of course JJ Cale’s song.
  • Some more recent songs are more positive about cocaine –
  • Lit Up by Buckcherry
  • So who benefited from the ban on cocaine?
  • On the surface, we might think that the major benefits went to the people who continued to sell it on the black market, and the manufacturers of other kinds of drugs – especially alcohol.
  • Which was still legal – Prohibition was 6 years away.
  • Police and federal law enforcement budgets got a boost, and this grew massively over time, as they had to police the banned substances
  • But one kind of person who benefited is often over-looked.
  • Politicians.
  • Especially WHITE politicians.
  • Remember that all of this happened not long after Emancipation.
  • Slavery was outlawed, but Black men could vote.
  • The Democrats who controlled the South started to introduce various forms of Jim Crow laws to prevent African Americans and poor whites from voting.
  • BTW, for non-American listeners, Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States.
  • They were Enacted by white Democratic-dominated state legislatures in the late 19th century after the Reconstruction period, and these laws continued to be enforced until 1965.
  • The name Jim Crow comes an old song from 1832, Jump Jim Crow, which was performed by a white man, Thomas Rice, who dressed up in blackface.
  • It was the start of the minstrel movement.
  • The laws enacted to stop blacks from voting and being represented in the political system including literacy tests,  all-white primaries and Felony disenfranchisement – which is when anyone with a felony record is banned from voting.
  • Mississippi’s 1890 constitutional convention was among the first to use felon disenfranchisement laws against African Americans.
  • When cocaine became a substance you could be jailed for possessing, it meant more black men would get arrested and then couldn’t vote.
  • In 1898, the U.S. Supreme Court implicitly endorsed Mississippi’s discriminatory disenfranchisement laws in Williams v. Mississippi, a case that legalized all-white juries.
  • Alabama’s 1901 Constitution said: “The following persons shall be disqualified both from registering, and from voting, namely:
  • All idiots and insane persons; those who shall by reason of conviction of crime be disqualified from voting at the time of the ratification of this Constitution; those who shall be convicted of treason, murder, arson, embezzlement, malfeasance in office, larceny, receiving stolen property, obtaining property or money under false pretenses, perjury, subornation of perjury, robbery, assault with intent to rob, burglary, forgery, bribery, assault and battery on the wife, bigamy, living in adultery, sodomy, incest, rape, miscegenation, crime against nature, or any crime punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary, or of any infamous crime or crime involving moral turpitude; also, any person who shall be convicted as a vagrant or tramp, or of selling or offering to sell his vote or the vote of another, or of buying or offering to buy the vote of another, or of making or offering to make a false return in any election by the people or in any primary election to procure the nomination or election of any person to any office, or of suborning any witness or registrar to secure the registration of any person as an elector.”
  • “What is it we want to do?” asked John B. Knox, president of the Alabama convention of 1901. “Why, it is within the limits imposed by the Federal Constitution, to establish white supremacy in this State.”
  • He argued that manipulating the ballot to exclude blacks was warranted, because they were inferior to whites and because the state needed to avert the “menace of Negro domination.”
  • QUOTE: “The negro is descended from a race lowest in intelligence and, moral perception of all the races, of men.”
  • They didn’t fuck around these guys.
  • Within two years, criminal voting restrictions disenfranchised nearly 10 times as many blacks as whites.
  • And this isn’t just something that happened 100 years ago.
  • Poll taxes and literacy tests are now barred, but the voting system in Alabama still excludes those convicted of crimes of moral turpitude.
  • The Supreme Court in 1985 ruled that the state could no longer apply that term to misdemeanors.
  • But officials continued to use the subjective term to deny voting rights to hundreds of thousands of felons, most of whom were poor and African American.
  • An analysis of the 2008 presidential election concluded that the law prevented 250,000 Alabamians from voting that year.
  • As recently as last year, some 15 percent of otherwise eligible African Americans lacked the right to vote, according to a study by The Sentencing Project.
  • BTW Alabama today has one of the highest rates of felony disenfranchisement in the nation: An estimated 7.2 percent of its citizens — and 15 percent of African-Americans — have lost the right to vote..
  • As Carter Glass – a newspaper publisher and Democratic politician from Lynchburg, Virginia – named after the guy who invented lynching –  who represented Virginia in both houses of Congress and served as the United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Woodrow Wilson – said when they were revising Virginia’s constitution to include Jim Crow laws establishing racial segregation in the early 20th century: “Discrimination! Why that is exactly what we propose. To remove every negro voter who can be gotten rid of, legally, without materially impairing the numerical strength of the white electorate.”
  • Glass said he “will eliminate the darkey as a political factor in this State in less than five years.”
  • He was applauded for announcing that the plan “does not necessarily deprive a single white man of the ballot, but will inevitably cut from the existing electorate four-fifths of the negro voters.”
  • There was nothing covert about it.
  • Glass’s most notable achievement was passage of the Glass–Steagall Act, which separated the activities of banks and securities brokers.
  • Which another Democrat, Bill Clinton, tore up when he was President, which lead directly to the Global Financial Crisis, so thanks a lot, Democrats.
  • Glass and Clinton had a lot in common.
  • For example, They are both from the south.
  • As a young boy, Glass was given the nickname Pluck.
  • As a President, Bill Clinton loved to fuck. Interns. And other women.
  • Glass didn’t like negroes; Clinton didn’t like to fuck his wife.
  • So you can see… they had a lot in common.
  • Virginia’s 1902 constitution did indeed disfranchise persons who  “prior to the adoption of this Constitution, were disqualified from voting, by conviction of crime, either within or without this State, and whose disabilities shall not have been removed; [and] persons convicted after the adoption of this Constitution, either within or without this State, of treason, or of any felony, bribery, petit larceny, obtaining money or property under false pretences, embezzlement, forgery, or perjury . . .”

Theme music: Holy Deep by The Passion HiFi

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