The American Drug War – a Conflict Theory Perspective

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In the mid to late 20th Century, the United States has experienced several states of Cultural Revolution. The Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Movement, the anti-War Movement during the Vietnam era, and the increasing presence of a widespread, politically active and highly vocalized youth counterculture led the United States government to feel that maybe, they were losing control of their population. The white, upper class men, who for centuries had dominated the political realm, began to feel their grip on power falter. By targeting drug use, the government would be free to "deal" with minorities especially African Americans, Hispanics, the free-love generation, and left-wing "radicals," all while claiming that they were protecting our country and our borders from the international drug trade, as well as ridding our streets of drugs and related violence. In addition, many government worried that if drug use became widespread, they would no longer be able to control a newer, "freer thinking" society. With the launch of the War on Drugs by President Richard M. Nixon in 1972, the United States government and unsuspecting citizens alike were embarking on a journey of discreet, institutionalized racial and class discrimination in order to ensure that the majority of governmental power stayed where it has since long before the adoption of capitalism: among the elite white males. Subsequent policy has included Reagan's militarization of the War on Drugs, the 1998 "Souder" Amendment to the Higher Education Act, and the prosecution the citizens of states such as California, where marijuana has been legalized, with federal crimes. These policies have had an increasingly negative effect on society, including overcrowding of jails and prisons, denial of federal higher education financial aid, life prison sentences for nonviolent repeat offenders, and other social atrocities. All the while, most law enforcement officials feel that they are "losing" the War on...
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