Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) knows how to make waves in Washington, D.C. On Wednesday he did just that with his stinging commentary on the unrest in Ferguson. In the media the most likely people to get blamed are either wearing police blue or are standing protesting on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. For Senator Paul, both of these groups are not at fault for the frustration that is boiling over outside St. Louis.
No, the real blame lies mainly at the feet of politicians…
In the search for culpability for the tragedy in Ferguson, I mostly blame politicians. Michael Brown’s death and the suffocation of Eric Garner in New York for selling untaxed cigarettes indicate something is wrong with criminal justice in America. The War on Drugs has created a culture of violence and put police in a nearly impossible situation.
In Ferguson, the precipitating crime was not drugs, but theft. But the War on Drugs has created a tension in some communities that too often results in tragedy. One need only witness the baby in Georgia, who had a concussive grenade explode in her face during a late-night, no-knock drug raid (in which no drugs were found) to understand the feelings of many minorities — the feeling that they are being unfairly targeted.
Three out of four people in jail for drugs are people of color. In the African American community, folks rightly ask why are our sons disproportionately incarcerated, killed, and maimed?
Reforming criminal justice to make it racially blind is imperative, but that won’t lift up these young men from poverty. In fact, I don’t believe any law will. For too long, we’ve attached some mythic notion to government solutions and yet, 40 years after we began the War on Poverty, poverty still abounds.
Senator Paul says that the problem isn’t really a racial one – though the current unrest may make it seem that way. He says the real dividing line exists because of poverty and the difficulties many have escaping that financial reality.
This message is not a racial one. The link between poverty, lack of education, and children outside of marriage is staggering and cuts across all racial groups. Statistics uniformly show that waiting to have children in marriage and obtaining an education are an invaluable part of escaping poverty.
Senator Paul knows just what to say to get a rise out of people, and his latest piece is no exception. He’ll have politicians in Washington fuming for days with his latest attacks on their pet projects and personal moneymakers. Read the rest of his op-ed over at TIME magazine online.
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