Admittedly, way out here on America’s Left Coast, we’re not all that accustomed to either racist rhetoric or stupid, anti-scientific scare mongering over marijuana. The same, clearly, cannot be said for Kansas, home to State Rep. Steve Alford, who is a fan of both.
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Unwilling to join us in the 21st century, Alford is a septuagenarian Republican who says legalizing marijuana is a bad idea. Now, you’d expect a modern day conservative to be stubbornly resistant to the notion that weed isn’t more harmful than booze or tobacco — despite what mounting evidence clearly shows — but it’s still really shocking to read someone making the following statements, unironically, in 2019.
What you really need to do is go back in the ’30s, when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas (and) across the United States. What was the reason why they did that? One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, was that the African Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off to those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics, and that.
As our friends at Patheos point out, what makes this rhetoric so surprising how anachronistic it feels now. Sure, we’ve all seen “Reefer Madness,” but hearing someone speak as if it was a legitimate documentary on the ills of marijuana is hilariously shocking, isn’t it?
Rep. Alford is using phrasing and terms that haven’t changed one scintilla from what was being said by the notorious Harry Anslinger, the man behind the racist stigmatizing of pot.
“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” Anslinger said once when explaining why marijuana supposedly caused crime and violence. The commissioner also fought for the prohibition of cannabis due to “its effect on the degenerate races.”
Honestly, I’m not sure if Rep. Alford meant to be racist, meant to be stupid about drugs, or meant to be stupid about drugs in a racist way. The idea that African-Americans are somehow genetically inferior to white men, and therefore need to smoke pot to feel like their equal is shockingly even-handed in both its brazen racism and its unabashed ignorance about what pot does.
What’s clear is that Alford is a fossil, a relic, sediment leftover from the bygone days of when white men could say whatever ridiculously stupid thing they wanted to, and be taken as serious and forthright. This happens when you have broadcast media conservatives helping the Republican Party hide their dog whistle racism and scientific illiteracy — you get dudes who still think 80 years later that Anslinger was onto something.
The thing is — you can’t even really blame Alford’s being from another time for his inanity and racism. He’s about as old as Tommy Chong, and that dude loves the weed and doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. Hell, Willie Nelson is ten years old, smokes as much pot as Chong, is white AF and still isn’t racist like Alford.
I’m not sure what’s the matter with Kansas these days, but I’m certain at least some of it has to do with lawmakers like State Rep. Steve Alford.
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook and Instagram, but not Twitter because he has a potty mouth.