If you’re ever optimistic about our odds of changing society through persuasion and voting, take a look at what people outside of your own circle of friends believe. In some cases, even those in your own circle are scary enough. Sunday, I ran into a guy who’s convinced that the way to get rid of illegal narcotics in this country is to have a “10 to 20 year war with Mexico.”
For me, there’s no issue that touches on as many infringements of personal freedom as the “drug war” does. It violates people’s right to decide what to consume. It costs everybody a tremendous amount of money every year as governments — federal, state and local — pour billions of dollars down the rathole of “eradicating drugs.” And in the zeal to prosecute this “war,” innocent people (and even family pets) are being killed pretty regularly, but it’s shrugged off as necessary. Maybe worst of all, the fight against drugs is being used as an excuse to erode more and more of our freedoms. And even if you think recreational drugs are good — which I don’t — the problem isn’t getting any better. It never will.
Some people can’t accept that, though. On Facebook, a friend of a friend was blaming cocaine for the death of Whitney Houston. He said, “Cocaine sucks!! So do the nations and organizations that pump it into the U.S. May the iron rod of Jesus come down on the narco-nations now. In Jesus’ name. She might have done more cocaine than anybody in history; even though she might have kicked it recently. Know who brought cocaine to the U.S.?”
I responded that if anybody is the “narco-nation,” it’s the United States, because this country is the market that makes all of that possible. (I didn’t even try to get into the bizarre theology of “the iron rod of Jesus” coming down on nations.) I told him that our drug Prohibition was destroying these other nations as criminal gangs had the incentive to profit from selling to people in this country. This was his response:
Afghanistan – makes the most Heroin / Opium. Mexico – makes the most cocaine and meth. We consume as rats would consume if it were placed in front of them. People in the U.S. purchase their poison, but if we Nuke Mexico – the production would stop, wouldn’t it?
I”m not suggesting we Nuke our neighbor (not too smart), but I do fully support using heavy military action against Mexico’s cartel. I mean – take their weapons, their money, and Mexican oil – and start really cleaning up. Yes – 10 to 20 year war with Mexico is what is needed.
How do you respond to that? How do you explain to people that this sort of insanity wouldn’t work and it’s immoral, too? I have no idea. I don’t believe it’s possible to change their beliefs. People who believe such irrational, immoral and disturbing things aren’t suddenly going to see the light. And while there might not be a majority who are ready to go to war with Mexico over drugs, I think you’d be surprised just how many would favor some sort of military action if you made the fight about drugs and immigration.
By the way, you might find yourself thinking that this man must be some ignorant southern redneck white guy who simply hates dark-skinned people. (It’s OK. You can admit it. Most outsiders quickly jump to such conclusions.) But the guy I’m quoting is a black man who lives in California.
Quoting one irrational man who wants to kill lots and lots of people because of drugs doesn’t prove anything. It doesn’t mean a large percentage of people are this way. It doesn’t even (technically) prove that this man can’t be persuaded with sweet reason. But do you believe that? When you look at his words, do you believe facts matter to someone such as that?
This is what we face. As long as you have an attachment to majoritarian systems and support them with your participation, this is the kind of person you’re putting into power over you. Even if you think the “majority rules” system is moral, do you honestly think it’s smart to give power to people who think like this guy?