Russell Simmons and Dylan Ratigan: War on Drugs Is a Racist Conspiracy

Hip-hop millionaire Russell Simmons and MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan aren't only outspoken supporters of the Occupy movement.

On the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the pair published an article at the Huffington Post claiming that our decades-old war on drugs is a racist conspiracy designed to unfairly incarcerate blacks to profit government agencies and corporate America:

As we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, it appears we are a far less prejudiced country than we once were. Individual expressions of racism are less tolerated than ever, we have an African-American President, and African-Americans are increasingly being accepted into executive suites. Yet when we look closer, we find that Greedy Bastards have rebranded racism and made it acceptable again, by calling it "the war on drugs."

After sharing some statistics, they continued:

The modern drug war in politics can be traced back to political operative named Clifford White, an advisor to Barry Goldwater, who recognized that there were votes to be had in the backlash against the civil rights movement. From the 1970s to the 1990s, the war on drugs became convenient code for politicians who wanted to appeal to certain working class white voters with coded racist appeals. President Reagan used this political support to escalate the war on drugs.

A Federal law passed in 1986 allowed law enforcement agencies to seize drug money, and use it to supplement their budgets. Grabbing cash connected to drugs meant that police departments could buy more tools and training. Like the fee-for-service model in medicine, that pays doctors for performing procedures, not for making people healthier, the "forfeiture laws" effectively pay the police departments for making busts - not for reducing the drug trade.

That's right. According to Simmons and Ratigan, the war on drugs isn't only racist. It's a financial tool for law enforcement agencies to fund themselves.

But it got better:

The second significant institutional incentive is of more recent origin, though it too has its beginnings in the Reagan era - the development of for-profit prison companies and their vast lobbying and political apparatus.

  • Prisoners now manufacture and assemble products for Microsoft, Starbucks, Victoria's Secret, Boeing, as well as body armor for soldiers and handcuff cases for law enforcement officers.
  • In 2007, taxpayers spent 74 billion on prisons, with the largest percentage increase of prisoners going to for-profit prison companies.

So, the war on drugs isn't just racist. It's also a means of government agencies and private companies profiting from the incarceration of mostly black Americans.


But there's still more:

Today, the march for civil rights isn't about convincing Americans that racism is wrong. It is about getting money out of politics, so that the profit from institutional racism is eliminated. The Supreme Court's decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson saying "separate but equal" has been trumped by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, eliminating all restrictions on corporate cash in politics.

So the solution is reversing the Citizens United decision. But that was made on January 10, 2010. If that's the cause of all of our problems, wouldn't that mean things were great in the nation - particularly as it pertains to this subject of the war on drugs being a racist conspiracy - prior to that point?

Simmons and Ratigan missed this obvious flaw in their reasoning.

So, too, did they ignore that America's first black president - and I don't mean Bill Clinton - raised more money than any political candidate in history in 2008, and will top that number in 2012. As such, the money in politics didn't hurt Obama or his devotees like Simmons and Ratigan.

Not surprisingly, liberals never see anything wrong with campaign finance corruption when it benefits their candidates.

But do you want to really get scared?

Russell Simmons is a very powerful voice in the black community due to his hip-hop empire, and Dylan Ratigan has his own show on MSNBC to spout this divisive nonsense.

With folks like these publishing this kind of detritus, you think racism will ever end in America?

Hardly, for people like this use issues such as the war on drugs to divide the nation and advance their own political agenda, and the only way it works is if they can keep racism alive and well for as long as possible.

Shame on them both.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.