By now you’ve probably seen the blaring “BIDEN OFFERS FREE CRACK PIPES TO BLACK PEOPLE” headlines all over the right wing fever swamps. Fox, Shapiro, the whole crew is marching to the beat of the same misleading, racist drum.
Well, it’s deeply misleading, and not a little racist. The source of the issue is a $30 million “Harm Reduction” program grant the Biden administration released, based on evidenced-based science that shows those programs do work, which is targeted at addicts struggling mostly with the opioid epidemic.
Below we’ll let Hayes Brown explain the program and the “racist, callous, cruel and counterproductive” spin being put on it – but we wanted to direct your attention to one particularly disingenuous player in this ugly game: MARSHA BLACKBURN.
Marsha is now threatening a government shutdown over this, saying it’s a “slap in the face to communities and first responders fighting against drugs flowing into our country”.
Does she think we’ve forgotten that she was one of the main culprits in allowing the opioid crisis to rage on, by carrying a bill to make it harder for the DEA to fight the opioid crisis?
Does Marsha really think we don’t remember how much blood she has on her hands?
As for the issue at the root of this, Hayes Brown breaks it down here:
For the past week, conservative media has been yelling about the Biden administration supposedly spending $30 million on “crack pipes” for poor Black neighborhoods. The hysteria is a real throwback to the 1990s and that era’s barely coded racist panic about people who use crack, given the drug’s prevalence in and strong association with Black communities — and it does nothing to help the millions of people addicted to narcotics.
At the center of the uproar is a Department of Health and Human Services grant that funds harm-reduction programs. A departure from policies that stigmatize addiction and force people who use drugs into hiding, these programs provide community-based support that includes having staff available to prevent overdoses, offering counseling on addiction and swapping out syringes to prevent the spread of HIV.
Nowhere in the grant are pipes mentioned — but from the blog’s report, it was off to the race-baiting. “Joe Biden’s latest idea is to pay Black people to smoke more crack,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Tuesday. Fox News’ website also leaned into the racial angle in its reporting, noting that the grant request document from HHS referenced an executive order focused on advancing racial equity and supporting underserved communities.
Spinning a program meant to save lives into a program solely devoted to making crack more accessible in Black neighborhoods doesn’t happen by accident. It can only happen purposefully. It’s an echo of the mandatory minimums that for years made sure possession of crack cocaine drew harsher sentences than powder cocaine. It’s a remnant of the failed “tough on crime” approach to drug policy that has left hundreds of thousands incarcerated over the years and many, many more dead.
It also does nothing to help address the opioid crisis that Republicans accuse President Joe Biden of ignoring. There are millions of Americans out there who need help with their substance use disorder, enough that the grant HHS is distributing should be at least 10 times as large as it is. The attempts we’ve seen this week to prevent such people from getting that help are not just racist, they’re also callous, cruel and counterproductive.
And Marsha’s piling on this racist firestorm is especially hypocritical.