July 23, 2020
Grandmaster Flash: Drug War Collaboratorby Ballard Quass
Parsing the song 'White Lines' for drug war propaganda
Grandmaster Flash may be a great rapper, but he is a lousy philosopher and historian, at least if he actually believes in the lyrics that he raps. Check out the words to "White Lines," the Duran Duran hit on which Flash is the featured rapper, with lyrics by Melvin Glover and record producer Sue Robinson.
Ticket to ride, white line highway
Tell all your friends, they can go my way
Pay your toll, sell your soul
Pound for pound costs more than gold
Sell your soul? Really? Merely by using a plant medicine that has been used responsibly by non-Western cultures for millennia?
This line could only have been written by a lyricist who was mentally under the thumb of drug war propaganda, a lyricist who had been convinced by cop shows and movies that cocaine can only be used for evil, since that's all the producers had ever allowed him to see. But these lyrics would have been laughable in any country that was not in the midst of America's unprecedented war on plant medicines.
For well over 2,000 years, the educated people of all cultures have known that any chemical substance can be used wisely or unwisely. Salt can kill you in high doses. Botox is deadly even in low doses, but in minuscule doses it can perform cosmetic wonders.
But the Drug War holds the superstitious notion that once a psychoactive substance is criminalized by politicians -- presto change-o -- it becomes evil incarnate, unsafe at any dose (or indeed in any form), and can thus be demonized without regard to common sense.
But moving on...
My white lines go a long way
Either up your nose or through your vein
With nothin' to gain except killin' your brain
Killin' your brain? Really? Apparently the lyricist is unaware of the fact that Freud used cocaine heavily to increase his work output, then withdrew from the habit later in life, without a big self-aggrandizing ruckus, when he no longer needed the focus-inspiring effects of the drug in question. But we can't speak of this in America, because the drug war ideology says that we are mere helpless babes when it comes to the all-powerful psychoactive substances with which Mother Nature has surrounded us.
Earth to Grandmaster: plant medicines do not "fry your brain" -- that is a drug warrior lie. To the contrary, cocaine brings mental focus, opium spurs creativity, and psychedelics help you think outside the box. If you don't believe me, read up on the responsible and productive "drug use" of Sigmund Freud, Benjamin Franklin, and Francis Crick, respectively, the latter luminary being the Nobel Prize winner who discovered the DNA helix by ingesting liberal quantities of psychedelics.
But the lyricists have such a naïve faith in the veracity of drug warrior lies that I'm tempted to sell them some prime swampland in New Jersey. Check out how the lyrics that follow mindlessly conflate the use of cocaine with the use of heroin and crack, in deference to the drug war practice of libeling and slandering Mother Nature's plants at will, without any reliance on pesky facts, let alone mere common sense. (Hey, apparently all's fair in love and the drug war.)
(Hey man, you want to cop some blow')
(Sure, what you got, dust, flakes or rocks')
(I got China White, Mother of Pearl, Ivory Flake, What you need')
Talk about guilt by association. Cocaine is not heroin. Cocaine is not crack. Cocaine is not Fentanyl. But when the drug warrior wants to demonize a plant medicine of Mother Nature, he's allowed to make up facts -- which is easy to get away with in a world where the DEA will not even allow the scientific investigation of most of the psychoactive substances in question, except to allow for studies by means of which the DEA hopes to further smear the reputation of Mother Nature's psychoactive plant medicines.
And the drug war beat goes on, as Grandmaster Flash proceeds to blame cocaine for all the problems that the drug war itself has actually created out of whole cloth:
Athletes rejected, governors corrected
Gangsters, thugs and smugglers are thoroughly respected
The money gets divided
The women get excited
Now I'm broke and it's no joke
It's hard as hell to fight it, don't buy it
Hey, I'm almost broke myself, trying to pay for my daily fix of Effexor, a modern Big Pharma antidepressant which is more addictive than heroin. But I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for Grandmaster Flash to demonize Effexor on my behalf, even though 1 in 8 American men and 1 in 4 American women are also addicted to such modern antidepressants, none of which were initially intended for long-term use. In fact, since Flash is such a pushover for drug warrior propaganda, it would not be out of character for him to appear on Oprah with a rap song reminding Americans to "Take Your Meds!" -- since that's another drug warrior lie, the notion that we must demonize Mother Nature's plant medicines while yet reminding Americans that it is their moral duty to become addicted to modern antidepressants.
But perhaps the most frustrating lyric of the song "White Lines" is the following:
A street kid gets arrested, gonna do some time
He got out three years from now just to commit more crime
A businessman is caught with twenty four kilos
He's out on bail and out of jail
And that's the way it goes, raah
Don't get me wrong, the lyrics are absolutely right. The problem is that the singer's addiction to drug-war ideology makes him absolutely impotent to do anything meaningful about this injustice. After having been prompted by drug warrior lies to conclude that cocaine is pure evil, he can scarcely call for the legalization of the coca plant, thereby finally getting the racist police officers off the backs of his fellow minorities. So what happens?
Such confused thinking about drugs leads to a byzantine effort by so-called minority advocates to tweak the wording of drug laws here and there, not to re-legalize Mother Nature's plant medicines (which should be ours by birth under the natural law upon which America was founded), but to make sure that the penalties for white collar crimes committed by Caucasians are just as harsh as the penalties for drug offenses committed by minorities.
This is why drug-war opponents can't make a united front against the drug war: because drug warrior ideology has conquered by dividing them into competing camps. And so the minority advocates go to the government, essentially saying: "Those kids got 5 whacks on the tush while we got 10." That may be true, but the real problem is that the government is administering blows in the first place, not that they are biased in the way that they distribute them.
It is no coincidence that the notion of treating criminal suspects as dirt and scumbags appeared on the scene at the same time as the drug war blossomed in the early '70s. It is the drug war that militarizes America's police forces and gives them free rein to indulge their racist impulses. The answer to the problem is not to demonize Mother Nature's plant medicines and imply that they're just as bad as the worst man-made drugs we can imagine: the answer is to stop unscientifically demonizing drugs altogether and start talking objectively about them, with the term "drugs" to include alcohol and Big Pharma antidepressants and the information that we publish to include perceived benefits as well as drawbacks and contraindications.
Flash's rapper friend, Cowboy, would not have died from crack had he been given objective information about psychoactive substances. The problem was not the coca leaf: the problem was the drug war, both its suppression of objective information about substances and its criminalization of far less lethal plant medicines with which human beings like Cowboy could have achieved self-transcendence with little or no risk of addiction, let alone of the AIDS and subsequent death to which these Drug War prohibitions eventually led him, so to speak, by default.
The whole problem is that we have been trained by drug war propaganda to hold this thing we call "drugs" responsible for causing all evil, turning it into the universal scapegoat for social problems, when all the real problems in the world are caused by the drug war itself: its deliberate lies about substances, its suppression of inconvenient truths about them, its criminalization of a wide array of psychoactive plants that could bring peace of mind to millions, and above all its creation of massive and widespread violence, the violence that inevitably occurs when one creates a black market in desired substances.
Chuck D of Public Enemy says that rap music is "the black CNN." But what's the point of creating a whole new "news network" when you're just going to spout the same old tired party line about drugs, based on a pack of drug warrior lies and censorship? The lyrics of "White Lines" would easily pass ideological muster with "the white CNN," or even with an openly racist Drug Warrior for that matter. True, the black CNN wants to focus on the racist implications of the drug war, but neither "news agency" can clear its head from drug war propaganda long enough to realize that the problem is the drug war itself, not the mere way that it is administered.
The Drug War Comic Book
On Sale here January 2021