Racism continues.

The U.S. has made many great advances in the fight against racism since the “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago.   One area where we have failed miserably is the drug wars.  Blacks have been arrested, convicted and incarcerated for non-violent drug related offenses in numbers way out of proportion to their drug use when compared to whites.  To add insult to injury, once a person has been convicted of a drug offense, they are prohibited by law from getting certain federal benefits including  military and other federal employment, federally subsidized student loans and grants, food stamps,  federal housing assistance and more.  Finally, and even more devastating, most employers legally discriminate against anyone who has had a drug conviction.  So, the negative impact on blacks’ ability to get work is again way out of proportion when compared to whites who use drugs.  There is no way that the immoral drug wars would have been allowed to continue this long if the tables had been turned and whites were treated so unfairly.  If you think that you are not racist, then you must support ending the drug wars – unless, of course, you want to wreck the lives of many many more white people by treating them the same as black people.

 

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7 thoughts on “Racism continues.

  1. Kurt,
    1. You say, “There is no way that the immoral drug wars would have been allowed to continue this long if the tables had been turned and whites were treated so unfairly.” I’m wondering just exactly what, specifically, is the objective source you turn to in determining that the drug wars are immoral. You need one, for without it, you’re merely sharing your subjective opinion, which alone doesn’t justify such a dogmatic assertion.
    2. You also say, “If you think that you are not racist, then you must support ending the drug wars – unless, of course, you want to wreck the lives of many many more white people by treating them the same as black people.” Talk about flawed logic! I could be non-racist and support the drug wars, simply by not accepting your contention that blacks aren’t treated equitably by the system. Or, should I believe that your contention is born out by actual facts, I could be non-racist and support the drug war while pushing for the equitable treatment of blacks (thus completely avoiding the necessity of “wrecking the lives of white people”).
    Having said all of this, I suspect we’re really in total agreement. Just find an objective basis for your moral beliefs and tighten up your logic a bit, and you’ll be fine.

    • John,

      The drug wars are immoral because the laws and the way they are enforced result in the arrest, monetary fines, and incarceration of adults who are acting peacefully and voluntarily. To the extent that others are actually being harmed, there are other laws on the books (i.e. assault, battery, robbery, fraud, etc.), to handle those wrongful actions. The voluntary and peaceful act of use or sale of drugs should not be a crime. To arrest and punish people for the use and sale of drugs is immoral.

      There are many studies and reports that objectively show that blacks have been arrested and convicted in numbers far out of proportion to their drug use compared to white drug users. Google it. I did. If whites were had equal treatment under the law as compared to blacks, many many more whites would need to be arrested and convicted and incarcerated.

      • Kurt,
        Apparently, I didn’t make myself clear.
        “The drug wars are immoral because…” Says who, or what?
        “The voluntary and peaceful act of use or sale of drugs should not be a crime.” Says who, or what?
        “To arrest and punish people for the use and sale of drugs is immoral.” Says who, or what?
        From what I can ascertain, you’re making dogmatic assertions based on merely your personal opinion. To the extent that I agree with you, I do so based on a worldview which finds its basis in Christian doctrine. Whether I go directly to Scripture, or whether I start with the Declaration of Independence (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”), I end up where you do. The difference, however, is that I, along with most of the signers, base for our belief on truth that will never change, rather than on the whims of personal opinion.
        As for your opinion that the drug wars are immoral because they restrict peaceful and voluntary adult behavior, I’m not pursuaded. But for the moment, that is merely my opinion, so I’ll refrain from making any dogmatic assertions.

  2. John,

    A fundamental question is:, “What makes something moral or immoral?” I think most definitions of the word “moral” equate it to what is “good” and/or what is “right”. Conversly, most definitions of what is “immoral” equate it to what is “bad” and/or what is “wrong”. A system or morality is a system that defines what is good or bad, and what is right or wrong. Christianity and most religions have a system of morality that is based on teachings of their God or their prophets or other religious leaders. As an atheist, I do not have a higher power to go to to tell me what is or is not moral. So, I have to decide for myself. Just as you have faith in your God, I faith that what I see around me and what I learn about people and the World is true. For example, it appears self evident to me that using aggressive force against a peaceful person wrong, bad and immoral. This is a blunt statement and depends on the definitions of aggressive, force, and peaceful. There are many specific, nuanced examples where particular actions may be moral or immoral. But for now, let’s stay with the simple, blunt statement. For me, it follows logically that if it is immoral for an individual to act in a particular way, the same act does not somehow become moral just because it is done by a majority through a government. Therefore, if the act of using or selling a drug is a peaceful act, then government use of force against that person is immoral.

    • Kurt,
      You said, “As an atheist, I do not have a higher power to go to to tell me what is or is not moral. So, I have to decide for myself.” I couldn’t have said it better if I tried. At one time, this nation was nearly unanimous in its belief in the God of the Bible, and in His Messiah, Jesus Christ. From what I gather, you see no particular advantage with the agreement in morals that such a religiously homogenous society naturally engenders, compared to, say, a country of 300+ million atheists, each deciding for himself or herself that “what I learn about people and the World is true.” Can you spell C-H-A-O-S?
      As to whether the sale and/or use of a drug is peaceful, or even moral, we’re governed under a system of laws. Therefore, the paramount question must always be, “Is it LEGAL?”, something you seem to have conveniently overlooked. Until the answer to THIS question is “yes”, then government use of force, when it comes to the sale and use of drugs, is indeed moral. If I find a newborn on my front step one morning with a note asking me to raise it as my own, I could certainly argue that I would be acting morally by doing so. Only one problem — it would be ILLEGAL! In such a case, I contend that the government WOULD be justified in using force to remove the baby from my care.

  3. John,

    The fact that I decide for myself what is moral or immoral based on what I see and what I learn about human nature and human actions does not make it less valid or correct than a system of morality handed down from a deity to his believers.

    Christians and Christianity had a very significantly positive influence on the founding of the U.S.. If, at that time, almost everyone had been atheist instead of Christian, I would like to think that the outcome would have been very much the same, but that was not the situation. We must live with our history, we have no other choice. We can only speculate about how things might have been different. We do know that libertarians include both atheist and religious people.

    Even though the vast majority of the population of the U.S. at the time of its founding were Christian, they still thought that there were enough differences in beliefs among themselves that they didn’t want our new government to be aligned with any specific religion. So, they created our Constitution, and specifically the First Amendment, to protect minorities against oppressive democratic majorities.

    By design, we do not have majority rule or pure democracy in the U.S. We have a Constitutional Republic – again, to protect minorities. We do elect our government leaders and representatives democratically, which is appropriate. Many of our laws are subject to majority rule, but, fortunately, our most fundamental rights and freedoms require various levels of super-majorities to be changed or taken away.

    There is no reason why atheists should feel any different than Christians about the need to institute governments to protect what we both agree are inalienable rights. My perception is that the large majority of libertarians are in favor of a Constitutionally limited government. There are some true anarchists, but they are in the minority. Even many of those anarchists believe that private, voluntary associations would develop to handle defense and common law enforcement – but that is another discussion. The bottom line is that there is no reason that either an atheist or a libertarian majority in the U.S. would mean chaos.

    Finally, the fact that an activity is legal does not make it moral. Likewise, the fact that an activity is illegal does not make it immoral. In our own history, slavery was legal but clearly not moral. Is abortion moral as long as it is legal? We are rightly governed under a system of laws. But I think we could agree that some of our laws are immoral. At the same time, I understand that as long as any given laws are in place, whether I think they are moral or immoral, a violation of those laws will result in penalties. Government use of force to enforce the laws is clearly legal, but if a law is immoral, then enforcement of that law is unjust. To the extent that any of us believe that a law is immoral or unjust, then we should make our thoughts known publicly. and work to change the law.

    • Kurt,

      I appreciate your thoughtful and well-reasoned response. I agree with much of what you said. However, because I rely on Scripture (what I believe to be the inspired words of an omniscient Creator God) to inform my worldview, and you rely on what I believe are the limited faculties of a sin-depraved creature (yourself, as am I) to inform your own, I think we’re currently just too far apart to agree on what should be the basis for what is moral and what is not.

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