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Propaganda, Stereotypes, and the War on Drugs Essay

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Propaganda, Stereotypes, and the War on Drugs


The West has constantly been fighting the use of illegal drugs for decades by Propaganda. Propaganda ‘is a form of manipulative communication designed to elicit some predetermined response’ (Inge, 1981, 322). Governments have been using many propagandistic methods to reduce the consumption of illegal drugs such as marginalization or creating stereotypes. By creating a certain stereotype for the drug users and dealers, governments believe that people would try to avoid drugs so they won’t fit the stereotype. Extensive researche has been performed on this issue and there was no support that this propaganda tactic made a significant difference in the use of illegal drugs.

To understand the reason behind the anti-drug movement and the development of stereotypes, one should know the history of the prohibition of certain drugs. One of the first drugs that were prohibited was Opium. This was due to the large amount of Chinese immigrants which consumed opium.

“Powerful labor unions such as the American Federation of labor feared competition from Chinese laborers who were quite hard working and generally willing to work for lower wages. Labor Leaders vilified the Chinese as opium-crazed fiends who preyed sexually upon young white girls” (Preston, 2001).

Since then individuals who consume opiates carried the stereotype of being rapists and evil-doers. In the early twentieth century, minority groups such as African-Americans and Mexican-Americans consumed marijuana. One of the main reasons marijuana was prohibited was to ‘drive Mexican-Americans out of the United States and “back” to Mexico’ (Blum, 1997).To create prejudice against Mexican-Americans, a stereotype was formed which...


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...ertysoft.com/liberty/reviews/60bradford.html>, consulted on March 30th, 2004.

FITZPATRICK, Michael (2001). “The Lessons of the Drugs War”, Spiked,. Online at: , consulted on March 30th, 2004.

INCIARDI, James A. (1992). The War on Drugs II: The Continuing Epic of Heroin, Cocaine, Crack, Crime, Aids, and Public Policy. Toronto: Mayfield Publishing Company.

INGE, M. Thomas (1981). A Handbook of American Popular Culture, Vol.3. Connecticut: Greenwood Press.

MacCOUN, Robert J. and Reuter, Peter (2001). Drug War Heresies. Cambridge University Press.

PRESTON, Keith (2001). “The Political Economy of the War on Drugs”, Free Republic,. Online at: < http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3b1106274d1b.htm>, March 30th, 2004.

SOLOMON, David (1968). The Marihuana Papers, 4th Ed. The New American Library, Inc.


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