Stepping away from our Mexican standoff

Jennifer Bernal-Garcia offers some analysis of our current episode of drug prohibition that smacks of our last one, though in her interpretation of the 21st century prohibition, the foreign enemy shifts from Canada to Mexico.   Failure is always the subtext, but it’s really the price tag for our failed war on drugs that she underlines in her article on Foreign Policy.org, writing:

While the failure of the “war on drugs” is an oft-rehashed theme, the NDTA goes into specifics. The availability of most illegal drugs — heroin, marijuana, meth and MDMA — throughout the country is increasing, mostly as a result of ramped-up production in Mexico. Apparently the costs resulting from lost productivity associated with drug abuse, the burden on the justice system, and the environmental impact of drug production are a staggering $215 billion.
$215 Billion is a lot of dollars, but it’s a little misleading to trot out that number as though we could get it all back if we just changed our drug laws.  The people getting those dollars won’t give them up without a fight, after all.
Beyond the proposed costs or potential savings, it’s the emphasis on race that I find so odd.  She’s writing about the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s National Drug Threat Assessment 2010, posted here.
The report does use racial categories to define the problem – Mexicans, Asians, etc.  The funny thing is, after reading the report, it’s pretty clear that Mexico isn’t identified as the central threat she suggests  it is – Mexico and Mexican traffickers are just a piece or two in a much larger pie.  Or melting pot, to use the more common racial metaphor.
The report does say that more weed is coming across the border from Mexico now than in the past, and that marijuana production in Mexico has risen, but it also balances that point by saying that domestic production is “very high.”  High – get it.  A little bureaucratic humor there, no doubt.
And who’s to blame for all this production?  Turns out, it’s white people.  This is from the marijuana distribution section:
Marijuana is produced in the United States by various DTOs [Drug Trafficking Organizations] and criminal groups, including Caucasian, Asian, and Mexican groups, but Caucasian independents and criminal groups are well established in every region of the country and very likely produce the most marijuana domestically overall.
I’m not saying that drugs like meth and heroin don’t bring problems, but when I consider the ways those problems are discussed in the public sphere, it makes me wonder about the addictive qualities of racist thinking.

1 Response to “Stepping away from our Mexican standoff”

  1. 1 Goldie
    April 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    These Caucasian Independents will I know one if I see one?
    I don’t know, all this jabber about ‘the problem’ and who it is and where it comes from and what direction. I think, in this tired moment that I am in, that the ‘telling point’ is when did a plant named cannabis, which sounds like hibiscus, or camellia , get turned into a substance called marijuana, which sounds foreign, sneaky and dangerous. ( a stolen point from something I read but I liked it )
    I think, this drug war is as manufactured and manipulated as profit in a casino. Things may look random and wheels might be turning and lights flashing, but really, it is all under control. The guys up in the booth know exactly what is going on.
    Racist Thinking is a very important tool to use in creating controlled chaos. Racist thinking works wonderfully in creating fear and distraction. Racist thinking is a very sad but effective old invention.

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