EUGENE JARECKI — THE HOUSE I LIVE IN — 2012
The film is clear, at times slightly long, maybe repetitive, but clear as crystal. The war on drug was first declared by Richard Nixon in 1971 in the midst of the final sinking phase of the USA in Vietnam, of course to hide the shameful defeat in a war in which the USA should never have put their nose. But this process of declaring war on something that is as badly defined as drugs, heroin, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, etc., or on something as emotional and sectarian as terrorism meaning Islamic terrorism, meaning Islam, has been a central characteristic of American politics for a very long period of time and as soon as they get out of one war they have to get themselves into another one.
They got out of WW2 thanks to the useless crime against humanity of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and they rushed into Korea. They more or less did not win the war in Korea and they rushed into the war in Vietnam. They lost the war in Vietnam and they rushed into Granada, an easy one; into Nicaragua, one more they lost; into Panama, an easy one; into Kuwait, a not so difficult one; into Afghanistan supporting the Talibans against the Soviet, a catastrophic one in the long run; into Somalia, and they lost it; into Afghanistan again, and they have not been able to get out of the quagmire yet; into Iraq and it was a catastrophe that brought Daesh, Syria, the Kurds, Iran, and so many others; and yet they are ready to start all over again in the China Seas or in the Indian Ocean, or who knows where.
This documentary concentrates on one war waged inside the USA, the war on drugs.
With 5% of the population of the world the USA have 25% of the incarcerated population of the world. And most of the incarcerated people are for drug related offences, most of the time possession of small quantities of some drug or personal private use. The Black users of crack in America are 13%, just the same proportion as the black population in the USA, and yet they represent 90% of the incarcerated people for crack connected offences. The easy conclusion is that it is a war on drugs that targets the blacks. Wrong. Absolutely wrong. It is not the primary objective. It is the vicious consequence of the primary objective of the war on drugs.
First the American society has been under a vast transformation of gentrification of many urban areas and the rejection of those who cannot afford these urbanized areas into derelict and dilapidated urban zones that become real ghettos for the poor, not racial ghettos, but ghettos of the poor. There can even be some whites, and in the apocalyptic de-industrialized urban areas in the USA, ex-blue-collar working class neighborhood the white population may be the majority of these abandoned, unemployed people.
It is just a consequence of this ghettoization of rundown urban areas in which the poorest population find themselves locked up and under constant police surveillance if not harassment, the only economic activity is producing, distributing and selling drugs, and the only compensation for the feeling of complete abandon is using drugs.
Add to that the fact that mandatory sentences have been instated for drug offenses by the various state legislatures and by federal Congress, under Democrat or Republican congressional majorities or Presidents, that make drugs the main cause of imprisonment and the guarantee that you will spend a great number of years in prison for a nonviolent offense that does not draw blood from anyone, except in a metaphorical sense.
Even worse they have established extremely heavy (twenty times heavier, sentences for smokable cocaine (crack) as compared to powder cocaine, and there a social preference is clear that becomes racial. Crack is a street drug essentially used by the poorest in a society, hence in the poor ghettos where the majority of the population is black. Just raid these ghettos and you’ll get your victims. Powder cocaine is middleclass and upper class, hence mainly white.
Even worse. The policemen in the various Police Departments get extra premiums for the arrests they make: a raid on drugs in one ghetto is going to bring an easy fifty or more arrests, fifty or more premiums shared by the various cops, whereas the Crime Investigation Service might make only one arrest in one week or one month. They do not wear uniforms, they are paid better, but premium-wise they do not have the proper end of the stick. That encourages the uniformed policemen to arrest as many drug offenders as possible, even for possession when they find one gram of crack in a pocket after searching someone who was just passing by.
The last vicious element is that they are building prisons for an ever and fast increasing population. Once the prisons are built, they have to be filled. They are often Public Private Partnership managed as industrial units by the private partner who guarantees a vast profit shared between the local public authority and the private partner and becoming the first employer of the community, hence and thus untouchable.
Here you have the full recipe for success: let’s get rid of the poor by putting them away in concentration camp called prison where they can generate a profit for the community and some private concerns, where they will stay for long periods of time and come back after a short recess of freedom, and the vast majority of the population in these prisons will be black: a vengeance of the USA on their ex-slaves, five generations later, on these rowdy people who dare demonstrate and fight for human rights and civil liberties.
The war on drugs is the way the USA are eliminating the poor by incarcerating them, with the secondary effect of hitting the black population first of all and thus de-structuring that population thus forever doomed in their Post Traumatic Slavery Stress Syndrome. And Trump has just said it: no discrimination will be tolerated but this is not discrimination. This is the war on drugs and crime, hence a holy war at least at the same level as the war against Islamic terrorism, as Trump as said again. And God is on his side, he said too.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU