The drug war is a debate that the left, right and those in between have been having for years. For some in the right wing media, it seems more about race than anything else.
In the United States, over a trillion dollars has been spent on the war on drugs and millions of Americans have been arrested in the process. With United States prisons overflowing, the war on drugs has been coined a "trillion dollar failure" by CNN in 2010. The most talked about drug for full legalization is marijuana, which is legal for recreational use in both Colorado and Washington. While white Americans and African Americans use marijuana at the same rate, African Americans are arrested at almost a 4:1 ratio for possession of marijuana.
During Monday's episode of "The O’Reilly Factor" on Fox News, host Bill O’Reilly claimed that the culture of blacks in the ghetto expose young children to marijuana use and make it acceptable for them engage in smoking it.
“Look, the left is basically saying ‘harmless,’ okay, which I don’t agree with, I think you know that. Not a harmless substance, alright..and it’s blacks, you know, because in certain ghetto neighborhoods it’s part of the culture. Nine-year-old boys and girls are smoking it, and they don’t like that. They don’t want those kids to be targeted by the cops.”
O'Reilly continued, stating that the parents who smoke are making it socially acceptable for kids to engage in drug use.
“Look, you know the unintended consequence of legalization of anything is to send a message to children that it’s socially acceptable. I mean, any parent who is smoking marijuana in front of the child is abusing the child, in my opinion. And now you have pot shops, you’re going to buy it at 7-11? It’s insane.”
Bill O'Reilly seems to be preaching to his base audience with his comments. According a recent CNN poll, 55 percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana, a record high. The jump is a 12 point increase from just two years ago, a 21 point increase from 2002 and a 29 point increase from 1996. Colorado and Washington have seen million dollar revenue increases due to the legalization of marijuana in the state, and other parts of the country could benefit from similar actions.
For Bill O'Reilly to pigeon hole his criticism to "blacks" in the ghetto is archaic language and rhetoric that just doesn't jive with the current state of the country. If conservatives want to truly be taken serious on a national level, they will have to learn to move forward the times before the country leaves their entire country in the dust.