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The Racist Mindset of Substance Prohibition

How the drug war renders minorities invisible

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

March 19, 2024

ast night, I watched a 25-minute YouTube interview with Nathan Lake, an expat travel writer living in Ecuador. It was a highly informative video about living in South America, especially for someone like myself who is thinking of retiring in that country beginning in June of next year. However, the host made a comment at the halfway point which stuck in my proverbial craw. It was the kind of comment that sounds innocent at first blush but which makes one think twice as they contemplate the problematic assumptions behind the utterance. I hoped to cite the comment verbatim for you, but the YouTube transcript option seems unavailable on this video, so I will paraphrase the host's remarks instead, assuring you as I do so that the following quote grasps the spirit, if not the letter, of his troubling adumbrations. I refrain from posting the name of the host here, since my goal is to expose the racist nature of the mainstream mindset about drugs and not to trash any particular person for holding it, especially when the offender is obviously unaware of the racist implications of that mindset.

I hate to even ask you about violence in Ecuador," quoth the host (more or less), "because we know in America that the problems with guns and things are in specific places, so as long as you avoid those places, you will be fine."

Now, it's a simple statement of fact, right? We avoid the violent places. That's common sense. And yet to me it also represents the attitude that keeps Americans happy with the war on drugs: the victims of that war are in specific places, after all; nay, they are different kinds of people than we are, belonging to specific races and economic classes, and so if we just ignore them, we will be fine. It's not a problem if they are gunning themselves down thanks to prohibition in some little corner of the world that we never visit. It's not affecting us. We know how to steer clear of the carnage that we ourselves are causing by knowingly promulgating a policy that created the Mafia as we know it today and is responsible for the influx of massive armaments into the 'hood. We can carry on with life as normal, as long as we pretend that such victims do not exist.

In other words, such comments are "all of a piece" with the Drug Warrior's absurd belief that the Drug War has no downsides. And they're right: of course. The Drug War has no downsides... for them. The Drug War's downsides are reserved for the invisible minorities that simply do not count.

Author's Follow-up: March 22, 2024

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

If you want to uncover unconscious racism, just watch some YouTube videos about moving to Latin America. The hosts will "blow off" violence in countries like Mexico and Ecuador by saying things like, "It's not a problem for us, really," ("us" apparently meaning "relatively rich expats"). "You've just got to know the places to avoid."

But this attitude is the whole problem when it comes to the Drug War. Rich westerners do not think of prohibition as a problem because it isn't one for them, and they do not lose any sleep worrying about the demographics for which the Drug War IS a problem. The victims are nameless minorities, after all, with addresses like "the 9000 Block of Water Street" or some other godforsaken location that is conjured by the very word 'downtown' these days when used in crime reports. "Gang shooting killed five in Baltimore? Not to worry, that shooting happened DOWNTOWN, after all, where you've got to expect such things."

I just saw a video about moving to Mexico, in fact, in which the host pooh-poohed the idea that the country was dangerous, saying that she hadn't noticed any major problems. But then she can hardly expect to see the 60,000 people who have been "disappeared" thanks to the Drug War1, nor the 39,000 whose bodies are tucked away in the country's morgues, still waiting to be identified by next-of-kin2.

When it comes to the downsides of the Drug War, the attitude of the reasonably well-off travel show host seems to be: "Don't ask, don't tell," or rather, "Don't worry, be happy."


1 Mexico's war on drugs: More than 60,000 people 'disappeared', BBC, 2020 (up)
2 Mexico's drug war leaves 39,000 unidentified bodies in its morgues, The Guardian, 2020 (up)

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You have been reading an article entitled, The Racist Mindset of Substance Prohibition: How the drug war renders minorities invisible, published on March 19, 2024 on For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)