The Privileged, White, Cis Male Rides Again

Drug Enforcement Administration special agents

Drug Enforcement Administration special agents (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



The gods of the news cycle often give gifts to we social justice bloggers. Whether it is some nonsensical comment coming from a Tea Party politico, a cruel remark from a CEO, or the latest act of malfeasance from any of the woefully under-regulated industries in this country, even when they try to sweep it under the rug, they cannot help but hand us treasures. Sometimes, just sometimes mind you, they hand us a gem of unparallelled value. Gems like this: a pro-drug testing for welfare recipients Congressman getting nailed for possession.

It should be pointed out, of course, that “getting nailed” might be a strong term.  As Liberal America writer Keith Brekhus put it “Probation…because jail is for poor people who screw up not for the distinctly advantaged who screw up.” He hit the nail right on the head. Radel is a wealthy, white man. Had he been poor, black, or trans he would be facing real jail time. Had he been a cis woman, he would be shamed right out of office rather than getting to take a leave of absence.

Making this all the richer is the aforementioned fact that he pushed hard for drug testing of all welfare recipients. Apparently you need to be tested for drugs to see if you are competent to receive aid, but not to see if you are competent to represent a few hundred thousand people and make decisions that affect hundreds of millions. Apparently it really is a medical issue when someone of privilege has a drug problem. It is only truly criminal if you are poor.

I look forward (not really) to the merry-go-round of talking heads alternating between defending this man and throwing him under the bus. It should be interesting listening to all the familiar voices contort themselves trying to express sympathy for this “weak man” while trying to support drug policies that keep our slave labor going in privately run prisons around the country. You see, they are necessary because poor drug users are criminals, and we know this because they break the law… by doing drugs.

I really do not want to see Trey Radel do jail time. Then again, I don’t want anyone doing jail time for being the victim of addiction. Representative Rade, though,l is a poster child for the most shameful aspect of our war on drugs. We, of course, treat it as news because he is a Congressman, but the fact of the matter is, white men, especially white men of means, get away with this all the time. They get visits with PO’s and a fine that amounts to pocket change for them.

Meanwhile we will continue to avoid meaningful dialogue about our drug policies and their racial implications. Too many of the GOP faithful, and even more than a few Democrats, will still push for tough drug laws, so long as their asses are covered. We let them get away with this. We do so by buying the PoC as pimp and crack whore myths they sell us, or worse, by not calling it out when we know it is not true. It always comes down to this, and I will say it again, or silence condemns us, and the victims of the oppressor. Speak up, or you are just another part of the problem.




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