A 22-year-old interview with a former Richard Nixon aide was released Tuesday (March 22) blowing the top on the administration’s War on Drugs, which according to him, was really an all out attack on anyone who opposed the Vietnam war and black people.
In a shockingly honest story published this week by Harper Magazine’s Dan Baum, Baum revisits a 1994 interview with John Ehrlichman, who boldly came clean about Nixon’s true goals.
“You want to know what this was really all about,” Ehrlichman, who died in 1999 said. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left, and black people. You understand what I’m saying,” he continued.
It’s reported Ehrlichman served 18 months in a Federal prison over his involvement in the Watergate Scandal, and was said to still have harbored resentment toward Nixon over what he believed was betrayal, which makes some think the candid statements about targeting blacks is out of revenge. Yet the notion Nixon used his administration to do so isn’t completely unfathomable.
In June 1971, Nixon announced The War on Drugs, and cited the high death tolls of drug use. Although African-Americans aren’t more likely than whites to use drugs, blacks are more targeted, and likely to receive twice as long prison sentences because of it, according to reports.
“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or blacks, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”