The great levelling force that the Left has relentlessly employed to transform every aspect of our culture in order to achieve “equity” has long relied upon a war against “intolerance” as their principal weapon. More recently, however, our social justice warriors—along with their oh-so enlightened and compassionate allies in Big Media, Big Tech, and Big Business have determined that a tolerant society is, well, just no longer enough.
Given the stubbornness of inequalities across social, racial, gender and economic groups, the Left has ratcheted up both their tactics and their tone against traditional America. Many have argued that the war they now wage is against our conventional meritocracy, even against merit itself. It is, however, more basic—and threatening—than that.
It’s a war against standards.
Standards in what constitutes the truth. Standards in acceptable levels of discourse. Standards in the meaning of citizenship. Most of all, it is a war against any standard of acceptable individual behavior.
To put it another way, we have been so bludgeoned with the obligation of endless tolerance and unquestioned compassion that we must no longer demand personal responsibility of our fellow citizens. To require some semblance of self-control of our neighbors today is to invite a torrent of ferocious public attacks and bullying from our sanctimonious betters.
To accept the leftist dogma that all behaviors are relative, even those that are harmful, stupid, or evil, requires not only an astonishing level of intellectual laziness, but also a kind of shameless moral cowardice. It is the modern version of what the late William Gairdner once described as “pandemic public ignorance,” where the people, to believe such misguided recklessness, become “dupes of appearances, wishful thinking, inadequate facts, and pseudo arguments.”
Nothing more exemplifies this reality than the current explosion of violent crime and drug use in our nation today—most acutely in anti-police, deep blue cities.
It is no mere coincidence that, in the wake of greatly diminished behavioral standards in modern America, we are witnessing a double helix of corresponding escalations in homicide rates and drug overdoses. Both of these activities—murder and dope—can arguably be described today as mostly “lifestyle crimes,” not criminal activities born of passion or “systemic” causes.
Despite the misguided or outright fraudulent assertions that the “stresses” of the COVID-19 pandemic directly led to skyrocketing homicides (up 25% in 2020) and overdoses (up 26.8% in the one-year period ending August 2020), both have been, instead, a deadly and still-rising combination of lifestyle-influenced acts devoid of self-control, exacerbated by an increasing supply of drugs across the country. The former is encouraged by our modern decadent culture and the latter tolerated, even sanctioned, by many of our current leaders.
Since we can track the direct nexus between illegal drug use and trafficking and how it drives all manner of property and violent crimes across society—as much as two-thirds according to one study—it is not the “war on drugs” we should rail against, but, rather, the Left’s war on standards.
As such, what follows are four critical elements of a reinvigorated national platform needed to reduce crime by reducing illegal drugs.
The public must come to understand what the police know—that dope doesn’t simply destroy lives and steal souls, but devastates entire communities and peoples.
That, despite the liberal narrative, we do not structurally or systemically engage in “mass incarceration,” nor are our prisons filled with drug users. In fact, they’re not even filled with drug traffickers.
That we’re not going to treat and prevent our way out of the drug problem. And, although it is also true that we’re not going to police our way out either, our own history has shown that the law enforcement component targeting drug production and trafficking is the most necessary and effective part of that comprehensive three-legged stool.
Most Americans have no idea how truly dangerous the world has become. How many people and criminal groups wish to prey upon and destroy our society in order to enrich themselves. How narcoterrorists and warlords now control an entire nation right on our southern border. Yet, unlike in the past, too few citizens today understand that society requires those who reinforce the good over the bad on our behalf and, therefore, must be reminded of that essential truth.
We are constantly lectured to by our more sophisticated and caring elites that we must not stigmatize those who are addicted to drugs and, thus, need treatment. Well, I don’t believe anyone, public or private, actually targets for abuse those who willingly step forward seeking help for their demons.
No, that’s a straw-man argument designed to absolve drug users of any responsibility.
Since nearly all addicts begin as recreational drug users, this is precisely the behavior we must stigmatize in order to enlist the forces of society and conscience to prevent and reduce the addicts of tomorrow. Illegal drug use should be shunned and scorned by our culture—at least every bit as much as we have done with tobacco.
We have to stigmatize the 15-yr old boy who thinks he’s cool getting high with his friends after school vaping the latest form of purified THC extract, or the college girl who thinks she’s sophisticated ordering fentanyl on the dark web and paying for it with some virtual currency for delivery to her dorm room. Most importantly, we absolutely must have the courage to stigmatize thosemedia and celebrity influencesthat normalize or excuse drug use among our fellow citizens.
What I’m referring to here is responsibility.
At its core, the drug epidemic in America is a problem of individual self-control. It’s not caused by racism, poverty, social dysphoria or any other supposed root cause.
We have to put the onus back on the individual, to take responsibility for his or her own safety and well-being. Certainly, government is part of the solution, especially its critical role in reducing drug availability, but it cannot be the sole answer, the singular and perpetual deus ex machina.
Quite simply, individual character and lawful behavior matter.They matter for self and, cumulatively, they matter for society. If not, then as Edwin Delattre has warned, “the country’s resources will be exhausted in efforts to save the citizens from themselves, whether or not narcotics are legalized.”
Law enforcement does not receive the resources remotely proportional to the threat. We should substantially increase funding for policing at every level—local, state, federal, international, and most critically, at our southern border. We have to do a better job at cutting off the toxins pouring into our communities at the hands of ruthless transnational criminal cartels.
The evidence over the past fifty years is clear: prevention and treatment programs are necessary, but they’re only strategically effective when drug availability is reduced. Time and again, we have proved that enforcing our state, federal and international drug laws works: against LSD in 60s, the country’s first heroin epidemic in the 70s, powder cocaine in the 80’s, crack in the 90s, and meth labs in the 2000’s. Clearly, these poisons were never completely eliminated, but we achieved significant reductions following aggressive—and reasonable—measures targeting drug supply.
We know that drug dealing is not a “non-violent activity.” Rather, the evidence abounds that it is inherently violent. To paraphrase former drug czar John Walters, at more than 88,000 drug overdose deaths last year, we intuitively understand that drug trafficking is the most murderous criminal activity in the history of America!
We used to do all of these things—and they worked! Not perfectly, but they worked surprisingly well in a free and democratic society that must continuously strive to balance liberty and order. We need to resuscitate them all! We need to once again find and cultivate truth over deception, self-control over self-absorption, responsibility over excuses, and duty over surrender.
To do otherwise will continue to tolerate, even reward, selfish and destructive behaviors that only serve to invite a Hobbesian nightmare where life becomes poor, nasty brutish and short.
Jeff Stamm is a 34-year law enforcement veteran, having served as a Deputy Sheriff in Sacramento County, California and a Special Agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He is also the author of “On Dope: Drug Enforcement and The First Policeman.”