We all know that Joe Biden was a senatorial leader in passing the 1994 federal crime bill. This law, supported by members of the Black caucus and Bernie Sanders, by the way, in conjunction with state laws, effectively criminalized the purchase, sale, or use of certain drugs, resulting in millions of Black men being put in jail for long periods of time. It was part of the “war on drugs.” Those targeted were Black men and women and non-college educated drug pushers. The punishment for use of crack cocaine was much higher than for the use of other forms of cocaine, thereby effectively focusing law enforcement efforts on inner city Black communities.
Now, there is a new drug crisis, the excessive use of opioids. Scores of thousands of people are dying of overdoses of drugs even more dangerous than cocaine. Non-college educated White users are dying at so great a rate that the national life expectancy rates for White non-college educated men have actually declined for the first time in living memory.
This time, the excessive use of dangerous drugs is declared not a public safety or crime crisis but a “public health emergency.” The victims are White, and the pushers are doctors and corporate officials. No one is suggesting putting users in jail. Since the drugs are prescribed by doctors, it is not even clear that their possession is a crime. Opioid users do not lose their right to vote.
Does anyone see a pattern here?