Parsing the song 'White Lines' for drug war propaganda
randmaster 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. HG Wells and Jules Verne wrote their best stories while taking generous swigs of Coca Wine. South American tribes have used the coca plant in religious ritual and for practical purposes for millennia. The Incas thought coca was a god. 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: and thus it is our duty to fear them, not to understand them.
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?
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 Henrik Ibsen, Samuel Johnson, 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. Hell, Plato himself was a "user" at the psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian mysteries, where he obtained his philosophy about the afterlife.
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 for studies by crooked researchers who are paid to "prove" that the DEA is necessary to regulate plant medicine that grows unbidden around us (like the researcher referred to by Rick Doblin in "Psychedelic Medicine" who filed dodgy reports against the drug Ecstasy to ensure that soldiers would go without a godsend treatment for PTSD for the last forty years!!!)
I wanna respond: Hey man, you want to cop some antidepressants that you will have to take every day for the rest of your life??? Visit your friendly neighborhood psychiatrist!
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 re-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 would-be 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 birthright under the natural law upon which Jefferson founded America), 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.
OCTOBER 1, 2020 - Why does Grandmaster Flash think that cocaine was criminalized in the first place? Because racist politicians associated its use with Black Americans -- just as racist politicians associated opium with the Chinese, marijuana with Hispanics, and psychedelics with hippies.
Thus the war on drugs is simply back-door racism, which is the perfect political crime, since now even Black Americans themselves have been taught to adopt the same jaundiced attitude toward cocaine that racist politicians adopted as a front, merely as a way to arrest Black Americans and remove them from the voting rolls by charging them with a felony. Conservatives generally want nothing to do with laws that foster social control, like laws regarding recycling for instance. And so when conservatives rabidly endorse laws to foster social control, you can bet there's an ulterior motive behind it: in this case, the ideological enslavement of Black America, and disempowering them through Drug War propaganda into supporting the mass arrest of their very own people.
No Drug War Keychains The key to ending the Drug War is to spread the word about the fact that it is Anti-American, unscientific and anti-minority (for starters)
Monticello Betrayed Thomas Jefferson By demonizing plant medicine, the Drug War overthrew the Natural Law upon which Jefferson founded America -- and brazenly confiscated the Founding Father's poppy plants in 1987, in a symbolic coup against Jeffersonian freedoms.
The Drug War Censors Science Scientists: It's time to wake up to the fact that you are censored by the drug war. Drive the point home with these bumper stickers.
You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at abolishthedea.com. Brian is the founder of The Drug War Gift Shop, where artists can feature and sell their protest artwork online. He has also written for Sociodelic and is the author of The Drug War Comic Book, which contains 150 political cartoons illustrating some of the seemingly endless problems with the war on drugs -- many of which only Brian seems to have noticed, by the way, judging by the recycled pieties that pass for analysis these days when it comes to "drugs." That's not surprising, considering the fact that the category of "drugs" is a political category, not a medical or scientific one.
A "drug," as the world defines the term today, is "a substance that has no good uses for anyone, ever, at any time, under any circumstances" -- and, of course, there are no substances of that kind: even cyanide and the deadly botox toxin have positive uses: a war on drugs is therefore unscientific at heart, to the point that it truly qualifies as a superstition, one in which we turn inanimate substances into boogie-men and scapegoats for all our social problems.
The Drug War is, in fact, the philosophical problem par excellence of our time, premised as it is on a raft of faulty assumptions (notwithstanding the fact that most philosophers today pretend as if the drug war does not exist). It is a war against the poor, against minorities, against religion, against science, against the elderly, against the depressed, against those in pain, against children in hospice care, and against philosophy itself. It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions, Nazifies the English language and militarizes police forces nationwide.
It bans the substances that inspired William James' ideas about human consciousness and the nature of ultimate reality. In short, it causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, meanwhile violating the Natural Law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. (Surely, Jefferson was rolling over in his grave when Ronald Reagan's DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated the founding father's poppy plants.)
If you believe in freedom and democracy, in America and around the world, please stay tuned for more philosophically oriented broadsides against the outrageous war on godsend medicines, AKA the war on drugs.
PS The drug war has not failed: to the contrary, it has succeeded, insofar as its ultimate goal was to militarize police forces around the world and help authorities to ruthlessly eliminate those who stand in the way of global capitalism. For more, see Drug War Capitalism by Dawn Paley.
Rather than apologetically decriminalizing selected plants, we should be demanding the immediate restoration of Natural Law, according to which "The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being." (John Locke)
Andrew, Christopher "The Secret World: A History of Intelligence" 2019 Yale University Press
Aurelius, Marcus "Meditations" 2021 East India Publishing Company