Wardel Davis is a casualty of the War on Drugs.

Wardel Davis was a Casualty of the ‘War on Drugs’

Deconstructing the Left on Police Brutality and the ‘War on Drugs’

By Jim Ostrowski;

How did we get from Wardel Davis dying after a drug war-related altercation with the Buffalo Police to protesters shouting “black lives matter”?

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The late Wardel Davis, a casualty of the War on Drugs.

No one has come forward with evidence that Mr. Davis died because the police decided to kill him because they think that black lives do not matter.  Rather, the death appears to be accidental with the medical examiner awaiting results of toxicology tests.

The slogan “black lives matter” is problematic.  It seeks, obliquely, to blame white racism for the actions of government employees, the police, technically bureaucrats, usually hired by Democratic municipalities, executing policies often popular with the black community such as drug prohibition.

Drug prohibition is, historically and intrinsically, a progressive program.  It got its start under uber-progressive Woodrow Wilson and is founded on the progressive notion that the government, not the free market, is in charge of the safety of drugs of all kinds and can ban them outright if it so chooses.

It is no secret that blacks tend to be members of the slightly more progressive party, the Democrats, whose platform extols government bureaucrats controlling our lives for our own good.

I am reminded of Mencken’s quip, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

It is beyond dispute that Mr. Davis was stopped by the police because they were enforcing drug laws.  If we want to reduce violent interactions between government bureaucrats (the police) and blacks, instead of using racially provocative slogans bordering on hate speech, we should end the progressive’s war on drug users and sellers.  A possible slogan in such a campaign would be “Liberty matters for all of us.”

Notice that I described the policy as a war on drug users and sellers.  The term “war on drugs” is yet another Orwellian lie of the type that dominates our discourse and our thinking.  You can’t wage a war on chemicals!  The drug war is nothing but the use of violent force against people for the imaginary crime of exercising their liberty.

The political left seems more interested in stirring up hatred, division and resentment than in actually solving the problem. Leftists need to ask themselves why they do this.  Are they really concerned about their fellow citizens or are they engaging in protest as a form of self-help therapy for whatever it is that ails them?

The progressives too have been fairly useless in the debate over police misconduct.  Progressives tend to seek a non-governmental scapegoat for any problem caused by failed government policies. Thus, while the leftist stirs up race hatred in the streets with divisive slogans, the progressive cheers from the sidelines as this tactic removes our focus away from failed government policies such as the drug war.  So long as we can blame white racism for police misconduct, we never have to ask questions like: in a progressive utopia like Buffalo, New York, with some of the highest taxes in the country; with free government schools, dozens of free programs to “help the poor” and sophisticated economic development programs to boost employment, why are there so many lost souls like Wardel Davis wandering the streets of the West Side, making frequent visits to drug houses and the arraignment part of Buffalo City Court?

Jim Ostrowski is a trial and appellate lawyer in Buffalo, NY.  He is CEO of LibertyMovement.org and author of several books including Progressivism: A Primer.  Copyright by Cazenovia Books (2016).



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  • You had your chance but instead made a point about my skin color. I don’t expect rational responses from progressives or leftists as both mindsets are based on emotion, not reason or fact.

  • Interesting conversation. Nice to see folks learning a few things from each other. Now, how do we have these conversations among those not in the choir? And by the way, “Black Lives Matter” is a very important and relevant statement in today’s criminal justice environment. The problem lies with its delivery. Liberty for all my friends, liberty for all.

  • Were Black protesters Wrongly Accused by this man?

    More overthinking by some white guy who thinks blacks need his permission to protest a questionable killing by members of the police. It generally starts with a shot at America’s most hated protest shout; “Black Lives Matter,” magnetically followed by false-parallels and implications that BLM (also a national organization started by 3 women) during the white-dry-drunk haze those 3 words inspire.

    My kingdom for just one White American who really feels hated-on when Black Live Matter is uttered. Your creative use of the word “progressive” through history tells me you’re on LSD. It is to laugh.

  • Jim,

    I always look forward to your articles because your views are steeped in libertarian politics, something rare in this community. Thanks for your reporting and keep it up.

  • I love this quote from the evil uber-progressive FDR in 1935 when Nixon was 18.

    “When the present administration took office ten countries had ratified the Geneva Narcotic Limitation Convention. The United States was one of these ten…. It was my privilege, as President, to proclaim, on that day, that this treaty had become effective throughout the jurisdiction of the United States….On Jan. 1, 1933, only nine nations had registered their ratification of the limitation treaty. On Jan. 1, 1935, only nine States had adopted the uniform State statute. As 1933 witnessed ratification of the treaty by thirty-one additional nations, so may 1935 witness the adoption of the uniform drug act by at least thirty-one more states, thereby placing interstate accord abreast of international accord, to the honor of the legislative bodies of our States and for the promotion of the welfare of our people and the peoples of other lands.”
    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 1935 in a radio message read by United States Attorney General, Homer Stille Cummings, [32]

    Source: Druglibrary.net. Retrieved March 9, 2011.

  • I actually defined the way I was using the term “progressive” in the article so there is no lack of clarity at all. Drug prohibition grew out of the progressive Pure Food and Drug Act (1906) and was the next logical step. This was well before Nixon. My memory says he was born in 1914. Blaming Nixon for drug prohibition is fake news. That said, Nixon himself was arguably prog1ressive in the sense of making government bigger in the vain hope to improve society. http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/641730/if_nixon_were_alive_today,_he_would_be_far_too_liberal_to_get_even_the_democratic_nomination

  • This opinion piece displays a stunning lack of clarity in definitions and concepts. Progressives like Nixon started the War on Drugs? The police state is a progressive program? The Democratic party is progressive? Who are these “Left” people referred to? I’d like to meet some of them.

    Wilson may have been progressive when it came to business monopolies and unions, but otherwise he espoused totalitarian views that would be right at home in the Trump White House.

    It appears that the late Mr. Davis was black. Saying his life mattered is therefore not illogical.

  • Drug fighters and illegalizers are violent criminals because they use or authorize the use of violence against peaceful human beings who have not harmed anyone or violated anyone’s rights. They are traitors because they oppose the principle of individual rights and personal responsibility which is the principle upon which this country was founded. And, they are terrorists because they target civilians.
    — Rick [Freedom_First (at) verizon (dot) net]

  • The government has no right, nor power, to punish any of us for what we choose to ingest or otherwise introduce into OUR OWN bodies, or provide to others who wish to do so.