Netflix’s new crack cocaine documentary is addicted to pushing a racist agenda & ignores CIA’s role in US’ 80s drugs crisis

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A new documentary, Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy, reflects how drugs took a grip of America 40 years ago. But it lacks insight and profundity because it studiously avoids the hard questions in favor of easy answers.

Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy, directed by Stanley Nelson, recounts the rise of crack cocaine in the 1980s and the US’ calamitous War on Drugs unleashed in response to it. 

Cocaine, corruption and conspiracy are three things I can’t get enough of, so when this documentary was released on Netflix on January 11, I dove right in. The movie certainly lives up to its name, as it does chronicle cocaine and corruption, but when it tries to tackle conspiracy, it stumbles noticeably.

The film opens strongly with a chapter titled Greed is Good, which highlights the ties between the muscular American capitalism of the Reagan revolution of the 1980s and the explosion of the drug trade in the country’s inner cities.  

The drug dealer as a black-market, underclass extension of the archetypal American entrepreneur is a compelling idea, but unfortunately, the film quickly eschews such high-minded observations and devolves into purely race-based analysis. 

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The film’s thesis is that crack, the media and political response to it, and the War on Drugs, were a function of racism. 

The documentary repeatedly makes this assertion and assumes it to be true, but unfortunately never actually proves it. In fact, the movie is often at cross-purposes with itself over its race-based contention. 

For instance, the film claims that, due to racism, law enforcement originally didn’t police black neighborhoods and therefore let drugs flourish. When black communities demanded aggressive police action to combat crack and officials responded with increased policing of black neighborhoods, that’s deemed racism, too. 

The documentary is chock-full of this sort of circular logic, confirmation bias and shirking of responsibility. 

Another argument is that the government’s amenable response to the opioid crisis, which affects more white people, as opposed to its draconian response to the crack epidemic, which affected poor black neighborhoods, is proof of racism. 

This ignores a fact that the film details extensively: that the crack epidemic was accompanied by massive gun violence, something that hasn’t occurred with heroin.

Drug gangs selling crack engaged in gun battles over territory, which resulted in many deaths, but it wasn’t just drug users and dealers that were dying, it was civilians caught in the crossfire too. This led to much public outcry and to government officials resolving to stop the bloodshed. 

As Sam Quinones reports in his 2015 book Dreamland, Mexican heroin dealers in the US use a very different approach than violent crack dealers. To avoid police attention, these dealers don’t carry guns or use violence, and target smaller cities with a customer-friendly approach that includes phone orders and direct delivery. In essence, these dealers have become like the Big Pharma companies that pushed the scourge of opioids onto the American public with the blessing of the government and medical establishment in the first place. 

The documentary ignores these facts in favor of reducing everything to simple racism. 

As for the “conspiracy” in the film’s title, the movie raises –but then refuses to answer– whether the CIA had smuggled cocaine into the US from Central America (thus creating the crack epidemic) during the Iran-Contra affair.

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This “conspiracy” is referenced numerous times but, while never refuted, it’s also never endorsed. The furthest the film goes is to say that it’s understandable that black people believe in this conspiracy since they’ve been so victimized by the government and the war on drugs. 

There is compelling evidence that the CIA did smuggle cocaine into the country and was responsible for the explosion of crack and guns in inner city neighborhoods. 

Gary Webb famously wrote about this in 1996 for The Mercury News and in his 1998 book, Dark Alliance.  In response, the mainstream media quickly jumped to the defense of the CIA and pilloried Webb, essentially ending his career. Webb ended up ‘committing suicide’ in 2004 by shooting himself twice in the head. 

An Inspector-General’s report later verified much of what Webb claimed, according to journalist and Webb biographer Nick Schou, who wrote, “The CIA conducted an internal investigation that acknowledged in March 1998 that the agency had covered up Contra drug trafficking for more than a decade.”

The CIA is ruthless and amoral, so its use of the drug trade as a social destabilizer and off-the-books income source shouldn’t be shocking. 

Alexander Cockburn details the intelligence community’s history of illegal drug operations in his 2014 book Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press. According to Cockburn, the CIA was testing LSD on unsuspecting civilians in San Francisco and smuggling heroin from Vietnam in the 1960s, running cocaine and guns from Central and South America in the 1980s, and restarted the opium trade in Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001. 

The documentary dutifully ignores Webb and Cockburn’s conspiratorial context, and its cowardly agnostic approach makes the film seem like controlled opposition, as it simply recycles establishment-sanctioned talking points around the war on drugs and uses racism as a shield to avoid bigger questions. In other words, the movie is just another opiate for the myopic mainstream masses.

Racism and a CIA conspiracy can both be, and probably are, major contributors to the moral atrocity and social calamity that is the War on Drugs, but shouting one and tap-dancing around the other turn Crack into just another documentary that would sooner tell people what they want to hear, rather than tell them the whole uncomfortable truth.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Trump administration to bar Chinese passenger carriers from flying to U.S.

June 3, 2020 / 1:46 PM / Updated 2 hours agoTrump administration to bar Chinese passenger carriers from flying to U.S.David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday barred Chinese passenger carriers from flying to the United States starting on June 16 as it pressures Beijing to let U.S. air carriers resume flights amid simmering tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

The move, announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation, penalizes China for failing to comply with an existing agreement on flights between the two countries. U.S.-Chinese relations have soured in recent months amid tensions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing’s move to impose new national security legislation for Hong Kong.

The order applies to Air China (601111.SS), China Eastern Airlines Corp, China Southern Airlines Co (600029.SS) and Hainan Airlines Holding Co (600221.SS), as well as smaller Sichuan Airlines Co and Xiamen Airlines Co. Chinese carriers are currently flying four round-trip flights to the United States weekly.

Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and United Airlines (UAL.O) have asked to resume flights to China this month, even as Chinese carriers have continued U.S. flights during the pandemic.

Delta said in a statement on Wednesday that “we support and appreciate the U.S. government’s actions to enforce our rights and ensure fairness.” United said it looks forward to resuming passenger service between the United States and China “when the regulatory environment allows us to do so.”

China “remains unable” to say when it will revise its rules “to allow U.S. carriers to reinstate scheduled passenger flights,” a formal order signed by the Transportation Department’s top aviation official Joel Szabat said.

“We will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours,” the department said in a separate statement.

FILE PHOTO: A passenger aircraft of China Eastern Airlines takes off at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy-en-France during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France May 19, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Trump administration on May 22 accused China’s government of making it impossible for U.S. airlines to resume service to China and ordered four Chinese carriers to file flight schedules with the U.S. government.

CHARTER FLIGHTS

The Chinese carriers are flying no more than one scheduled round-trip flight a week to the United States but also have flown a significant number of additional charter flights, often to help Chinese students return home.

Hainan had planned to fly between New York’s JFK airport and Chongqing starting in July, while other carriers have flights to Los Angeles and New York. China Eastern wants to resume additional flights later this year to Chicago and San Francisco.

The Trump administration is also cracking down on Chinese passenger airline charter flights and will warn carriers not to expect approvals. The Transportation Department order said the administration believes Chinese carriers are using charter flights to circumvent China’s limit of one flight per carrier per week to the United States and “further increasing their advantage over U.S. carriers in providing U.S.-China passenger services.”

On Jan. 31, the U.S. government barred from entry most non-U.S. citizens who had been in China within the previous 14 days due to the coronavirus crisis but did not impose any restrictions on Chinese flights. Major U.S. carriers voluntarily decided to halt all passenger flights to China in February.

Slideshow (3 Images)

Delta and United are flying cargo flights to China. Delta wants approval for two daily flights to China. United wants to fly daily to Shanghai Pudong from San Francisco and Newark, New Jersey, and between San Francisco and Beijing.

China’s air authority in late March said Chinese airlines could maintain just one weekly passenger flight on one route to any given country and that carriers could fly no more than the number of flights they were flying on March 12, according to the U.S. order.

But because U.S. passenger airlines had stopped all flights by March 12, China “effectively precludes U.S. carriers from reinstating scheduled passenger flights to China,” the Transportation Department said.

Exclusive: U.S. accuses China of blocking U.S. flights, demands action

May 23, 2020 / 2:41 AM / Updated 5 hours agoExclusive: U.S. accuses China of blocking U.S. flights, demands actionDavid Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government late on Friday accused the Chinese government of making it impossible for U.S. airlines to resume service to China and ordered four Chinese air carriers to file flight schedules with the U.S. government.

FILE PHOTO: Delta Air Lines passenger planes are seen parked due to flight reductions made to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S. March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

The administration of President Donald Trump stopped short of imposing restrictions on Chinese air carriers but said talks with China had failed to produce an agreement.

The U.S. Transportation Department, which is trying to persuade China to allow the resumption of U.S. passenger airline service there, earlier this week briefly delayed a few Chinese charter flights for not complying with notice requirements.

In an order posted on a U.S. government website and seen by Reuters, the department noted Delta Air Lines and United Airlines want to resume flights to China in June, even as Chinese carriers have continued U.S. flights during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order said Air China, China Eastern Airlines Corp, China Southern Airlines Co, Hainan Airlines Holding Co and their subsidiaries must file schedules and other details of flights by May 27. The department warned it could find Chinese flights “contrary to applicable law or adversely affect the public interest.”

United declined to comment. The other U.S. and Chinese carriers, the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) and China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The department said in a statement it has “protested this situation to the Chinese authorities, repeatedly objecting to China’s failure to let U.S. carriers fully exercise their rights and to the denial to U.S. carriers of their right to compete on a fair and equal basis with Chinese carriers” and called the situation “critical.”

On Jan. 31, the U.S. government barred from entry most non-U.S. citizens who had been in China within the previous 14 days but did not impose any restrictions on Chinese flights. Major U.S. carriers voluntarily decided to halt all passenger flights to China in February.

Delta and United are flying cargo flights to China. Delta had requested approval for a daily flight to Shanghai Pudong airport from Detroit and Seattle, while United had asked to fly daily to Shanghai Pudong from San Francisco and Newark airport near New York and between San Francisco and Beijing.

The number of weekly scheduled combination flights operated between the two countries by U.S and Chinese carriers fell from 325 in January to 20, by just the four Chinese carriers, in mid-February, before the carriers increased them to 34 in mid-March, the U.S. order said.

The CAAC in late March said Chinese airlines could maintain just one weekly passenger flight on one route to any given country and that carriers could fly no more than the number of flights they were flying on March 12, according to the U.S. order.

But because U.S. passenger airlines had stopped all flights by March 12, the CAAC notice “effectively precludes U.S. carriers from reinstating scheduled passenger flights to China,” the department said.

CAAC told the U.S. government during a May 14 call that China is considering removing the March 12 schedule pre-condition but the “restriction to once-weekly service on one route to China would remain in place,” the order said.

Earlier on Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department added 33 Chinese companies and institutions to an economic blacklist for alleged human rights violations and to address U.S. national security concerns involving weapons of mass destruction and other military activities.

Lana Del Rey – Looking For America Lyrics

Play this song

[Verse 1]
Took a trip to San Francisco
All  our friends said we would jive
Didn’t  work, so I left for Fresno
It was quite a scenic drive
Pulled over to watch the children in the park
Used  to only worry about them after dark

[Chorus]
I’m  still looking for my own version of America
One without the gun, where the flag can freely fly
No  bombs in the sky, only fireworks when you and I collide
It’s just a dream I had in mind
It’s just a dream I had in mind
It’s just a dream I had in mind

[Verse 2]
Took  a flight to New York City
I miss that Hudson River line
Took the train back to Lake Placid
That’s another space and time
Where we used to go to drive-ins and listen to the blues
So many things that I think twice about before I do, yeah

[Chorus]
I’m still looking for my own version of America
One without the gun, where the flag can freely fly
No bombs in the sky, only fireworks when you and I collide
It’s just a dream I had in mind
It’s just a dream I had in mind
It’s just a dream I had in mind

[Outro]
It’s just a dream I had in mind

Cathie Ryan – The Lights Of San Francisco lyrics

[Verse]
The lights of San Francisco
Shone on the city floor
Joe worked on in the city
‘Til the dawn came around once more

[Verse]
He came from Galway
Came over recently
And Lucy from the USA
Smiled at his naiveté

[Verse]
In the rocky places of his heart
No one had ever seen
Lucy picking cockles
And Lucy planting seeds

[Chorus]
Ohhh oh ohh ohh ohh

[Verse]
Came the marching bands of July
And their silver shadows flew
Ah, two by two, red and blue
Through the summer evening

[Verse]
He said, “All my troubles
Never wander very far
I like to hear music
But I like it on a blue guitar”

[Verse]
“And there is no end to the money
A guy wants to hold in his hand
The sky hung with airplanes
And no peace upon the land”

[Verse]
“And the folks on television
That lie with every breath
And insult you with visions
Of cheap life and cheaper death”

[Chorus]
Ohhh oh ohh ohh ohh

[Verse]
“And there is no home for me now
But I’ll go on loving you
‘Til there is no more music
And the guitar is no longer blue”

Sammy Davis Jr. – The Rhythm Of Life lyrics

Daddy started out in San Francisco,
Tootin’ on his trumpet loud and mean.
Suddenly a voice said, “Go forth, Daddy.
Spread the picture on a wider screen. “

And the voice said, “Daady, there’s a million pigeons
Ready to be hooked on new religions.
Hit the road, Daddy. Leave your common-law wife.
Spread the religion of the rhythm of life. “

And the rhythm of life is a powerful beat,
Puts a tingle in your fingers and a tingle in your feet,
Rhythm in your bedroom, rhythm in the street,
Yes, the rhythm of life is a powerful beat.

To feel the rhythm of life,
To feel the powerful beat,
To feel the tingle in your fingers,
To feel the tingle in your feet.

Daddy spread the gospel in Milwaukee,
Took his walkie-talkie to Rocky Ridge,
Blew his way to Canton, then to Scranton,
Till he landed under the Manhattan Bridge.

Daddy was the new sensation, got himself a congregation,
Built up quite an operation down below.
With the pie-eyed piper blowing, while the muscatel was flowing,
All the cats were go, go, going down below.

Daddy was the new sensation, got himself a congregation,
Built up quite an operation down below.
With the pie-eyed piper blowing, while the muscatel was flowing,
All the cats were go, go, going down below.

Flip your wings and fly to Daddy,
Flip your wings and fly to Daddy,
Flip your wings and fly to Daddy,
Fly, fly, fly to Daddy.

Take a dive and swim to Daddy,
Take a dive and swim to Daddy,
Take a dive and swim to Daddy,
Swim, swim, swim to Daddy.

Hit the floor and crawl to Daddy,
Hit the floor and crawl to Daddy,
Hit the floor and crawl to Daddy,
Crawl, crawl, crawl to Daddy.

And the rhythm of life is a powerful beat,
Puts a tingle in your fingers and a tingle in your feet,
Rhythm in your bedroom, rhythm in the street,
Yes, the rhythm of life is a powerful beat.

To feel the rhythm of life,
To feel the powerful beat,
To feel the tingle in your fingers,
To feel the tingle in your feet.

To feel the rhythm of life,
To feel the powerful beat,
To feel the tingle in your fingers,
To feel the tingle in your feet.

Flip your wings and fly to Daddy,
Take a dive and swim to Daddy,
Hit the floor and crawl to Daddy,
Daddy we got the rhythm of life,
Of life, of life, of life.
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
Man!

Tony Bennett – I Left My Heart In San Francisco (Tony Bennett Celebrates 90 Album)

The loveliness of Paris seems somehow sadly gray
The glory that was Rome is of another day
I’ve been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan
I’m going home to my city by the Bay
I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me
To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
The morning fog may chill the air, I don’t care
My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine for me

Emily Kinney – Michael lyrics

[Verse 1]
I never could believe in God
But always willing to give it a shot
If there is such thing as magic human souls
Well, then mine looks a lot like Michael
Yes, my soul looks a lot like Michael

[Verse 2]
Manhattan baby, drop-out, drug abuse
Naively feel I’ve walked around in his shoes
He looked so thirsty when my heart is full
So, I pour every drop out to Michael
Yes, I pour out my soul to Michael

[Chorus]
Oh, San Francisco savior
Do you remember me?
In a backseat on a golden bridge
Kissing

Let’s forget about the tears I’ve cried
And let’s hold on to that first night

[Verse 3]
Under the table he took my hand
We sat across from the Green Day band
All of those boys but I could only see his face
Think how me and Michael, we are just the same
Yes, me and Michael, we are just the same

[Bridge]
I might’ve had a boy, and he a girlfriend
But on nights like those nights, rules always bent
I’d give up anything to feel understood
I’d give up anything to feel understood
I’d give up anything to feel understood
I’d give up and run away if Michael would

[Chorus]
Oh, San Francisco savior
Do you remember me?
Oh, San Francisco savior
Berkeley’s been breathing
Oh, San Francisco savior
Please remember me
In a backseat on a golden bridge
Kissing

[Outro]
Let’s forget about the tears I’ve cried
And let’s hold on to that first night