Bring Freedom Home First

While I'm happy to be an American and I wouldn't really want to live anywhere else, I believe we need to look at domestic oppression before saving everyone else. I didn't hear anything about drugs in Bush's inaugural speech, but I heard a lot about freedom for those who don't have it. Illegal drug users have little freedom now in this country. 

As I reread the text of the speech, three paragraphs struck me, particularly as they might apply to victims of the drug war here. 

"We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right," Bush said. 

Oppression and freedom are at the heart of the drug war, and the choice has already been clarified for those who are willing to see. With hundreds of thousands of people behind bars because of drug laws, it's time to ask: Does oppression become moral when the oppressor thinks it's for the good of the oppressed?

"America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies."

But we continue to pretend that jailing chemical dissidents, those who take drugs not approved by the U.S. government, somehow is preferable for them. Women caught with the wrong drugs, or even those simply caught in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person, spend years behind bars in the U.S. Sadly, we do live at the mercy of drug war bullies, who insist on checking the chemical purity of our bodies and our children's bodies through drug tests; who arrest the sick and dying for trying to relieve their pain; who see themselves as above laws which restrict federal bureaucrats from getting involved in local political issues. 

"We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty."

That last sentence is inspiring, in theory. Unfortunately, in reality, freedom, justice and human liberty are under assault by the drug war. 

Let's get it right in our own country before insisting that everyone follow our lead. 

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