21. GOVERNMENT AND MEDIA HAVE PROPAGANDIZED THE
WAR ON DRUGS
When President Bush held up a bag of crack cocaine
(purchased earlier across the street from the White House) during a prime-time
television speech to announce his "War on Drugs" last September, it
set the tone for the whole media campaign which is apparently based on deception
and the creation of hysteria rather than fact.
As it turned out, the Drug
Enforcement Agency set up the deal in a crass bit of PR showboating. Never mind
that Lafayette Park never attracted drug dealers of any kind, never mind that
the DEA's hidden microphone didn't work, never mind that the young drug dealer
was lured there only with great difficulty by the drug agents. President Bush
got his prop and that was all that mattered. According to Propaganda Review, "A
vast array of propaganda techniques and devices are being used to convince Americans
that the 'drug thing' is the country's number one problem - a problem that required
extraordinary and even unconstitutional measures to solve."
have cooperated with Bush by providing extensive, uncritical coverage of official
speeches, press conferences, news leaks, sensationalized drug busts, and TV specials
that exaggerate and distort the drug problem.
One of the most effective
propaganda techniques, which taps deeply into the American psyche, is the use
of wartime symbols and jargon to justify extraordinary measures. And these propaganda
techniques are apparently working. According to an ABC News/Washington Post Poll,
more than 60% of Americans were willing to give up their own constitutional rights
regarding illegal search and seizure to help "fight the Drug War:"
may be understandable that the Bush and Reagan administrations were willing to
wage this Propaganda War since it diverts attention from the budget deficit, AIDS,
homelessness, administration scandals and corruption, nuclear weapons, and other
domestic and foreign policy problems. But one of the most disturbing questions
is why would the media engage in such a misleading and dangerous propaganda campaign?
Bush was questioned about the sleazy tactics in setting up the Lafayette Park
drug deal, he got angry and asked whether the press was siding with "this
That is perhaps one of the scariest aspects of this propaganda
campaign -- dissenting voices are simply not permitted. Early last year, DEA agent
Charles Stowell, during a KCBS interview, compared the publisher of a marijuana
grower's magazine to a child pornographer. And when former Secretary of State
George Schulz came out publicly for legalization, the White House said he "has
been out West too long."
This new McCarthyism has chilled public discourse
on alternative solutions to the administration's plans of prosecuting and imprisoning
drug users. When was the last time you saw a TV special on legalizing drugs, or
corruption in the DEA, or drug trafficking in the White House?
roughly one thousand times more people died from alcohol and tobacco use than
from cocaine, heroin, crack, speed, and marijuana combined. Yet most Americans
still consider illegal drugs to be the country's number one problem.
the War on Drugs may not be a success, the Propaganda War certainly is.
CENSORED RESEARCHER: JOHN GILLES
SOURCE: PROPAGANDA REVIEW Fort Mason, Building D San Francisco, CA
DATE: Winter 1990
TITLE: "DRUG WAR PROPAGANDA"
AUTHOR: JOHAN CARLISLE
COMMENTS: Author Johan Carlisle raises the disturbing possibility
of a society willing to give up its constitutional rights to fight a
war it has been propagandized into believing is worthwhile. Carlisle
charges that the media have gone along with the government in portraying
the drug wars unilaterally as a law enforcement problem. "There
have been a few articles in the progressive weeklies which have challenged
the party line," Carlisle said. "The overwhelming consistency
of the drug war story on T.V., in the magazines, and in the major daily
newspapers reveals the McCarthyesque nature of trying to challenge the
party line." Carlisle suggests that "The general public would
benefit a great deal from a national dialog on legalization of drugs
-- just one of the sides of this story overlooked by the media. Crime,
public health, corruption in government and law enforcement, and the
staggering social costs of incarcerating millions of casual drug users
are but a few of the real costs for the public."