Digital Tool in Action

The War on Drugs campaign was presented to the world as a colorblind attack on dangerous illegal drugs harming United States citizens. These policies shifted drug use from a terribly tragic health concern to a criminal act. Instead of helping people who were addicted to drugs they were now see as the enemy, not the victims. Nancy Regan explained this new stance in the following quote,”There is no moral middle ground. Indifference is not an option. We want you to help us create an outspoken intolerance for drug use. For the sake of our children I implore each of you to be unyielding and inflexible in your opposition to drugs” These policies were crafted in a way that appeared as if they were race neutral, but had underlying biases. These policies were presented to the world through the government, media, news, and pop culture outlets to put a face to the War on Drugs, that face was really a race, African Americans. For example, in public service announcements addressing the dangers of crack cocaine starred the white Holly Wood actor Clint Eastwood, famous for his tough on crime persona utilized phrases like, “Then again if you go ahead and try them at least it won’t be out of ignorance, just stupidity.“. On the other hand when African American individuals were used to address the crack epidemic very different language was used. For example, in La Toya Jackson’s single “Just Say No!” promoting Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign the language used in her song presents a much more compassionate and closer tie than that used by actor Clint Eastwood. La Toya even says, “Brothers and sisters. What are you crying for? People are dying. What are they dying for? You’ve got to be so strong. Don’t let them lead you on. And take you in Into their misery. The difference in language used between these two prominent public icons in relation to the War on Drugs helps express how it was presented to the public in an extremely radicalized way. The distance Clint Eastwood puts between him and the “stupid” choice to use drugs juxtaposed with the closeness and pure sadness La Toya expresses in relation to the crack epidemic help bolster this radicalization of the war on drugs.