The U.S. has given birth to the killing fields of Mexico. Does that even matter, at all, to those in this country who are in a position do something about it?
American drug policy, and our gutless, unreasoned refusal to change it, has caused the epic violence south of the border. The American-led drug war has claimed the lives of over 50,000 Mexicans since the end of 2006. That's when newly installed president Felipe Calderon declared all-out war on drug traffickers, collected $1.4 billion from the U.S. treasury, and used American resources to train and equip thousands of soldiers, marines, and police officers, large numbers of them as corrupt and brutal as the enemy they pursue.
Think about what our reaction might be if the battlefields, the reports of corruption and carnage, carried U.S. as opposed to Mexican datelines. Here are some examples from just this past week, reimagined as having taken place in American cities:
"Portsmouth, Virginia police officer shot and killed on the way to work" (Actually Ciudad Juarez.)
"Eight men killed at funeral in Lincoln, Nebraska" (Atoyac de Alvarrez, Guerrero)
"Three bodies found in empty lot in Honolulu" (Acapulco)
"Kansas City man found decapitated in car" (Acapulco)
"San Diegan dies in exchange of gunfire with police" (Acapulco)
"At least eight people in Billings, Montana murdered, naked man thrown from moving car" (Ciudad Juarez)
"Five Washington, D.C. cops ambushed, killed by gunmen armed with assault rifles" (Ixtapaluca, near Mexico City)
"Two Indianapolis officers shot and killed in private Ford Mustang" (Ciudad Juarez)
"Four gunmen killed by soldiers in Memphis" (Saltillo, Coahulila)
Imagine these body counts not in Matamoros or Morelia, Tijuana or Tampico, but in cities like New York, Grand Rapids, Chicago, Bismarck, Los Angeles, Tallahassee, Houston, Des Moines, Kansas City, Bangor. Imagine your own neighborhood littered with corpses -- decapitated, incinerated, hung from freeway overpasses.
Millions of innocent Mexicans live in abject terror every day of their lives, but we don't care. Certainly not enough to do the right thing -- which must start with an end to prohibition, the failed policy behind the drug war.
When will the collective conscience of the American people be sufficiently shocked to put an end to the killing? (Not just in Mexico, by the way: Mexican drug cartels have established flourishing retail operations in hundreds of American cities)
Yet President Obama, who clearly knows better, has fallen into the same political tar pit inhabited by every president since Richard Nixon. And congress, the body that can truly make a difference? Its hapless members wring their hands, gnash their teeth, rattle their sabers and, with unerring consistency, manage to make matters worse.
The people? As in we the people? We're too busy immigrant-bashing, our police forces too busy discriminating against Latinos to care about the violence in our back, and front, yard.
Political pressure, of the type and strength that ended alcohol prohibition of the 1920s, is the only solution.
We must force the government to take off the blinders, grasp the simple and sad supply-and-demand economics of what's actually going on in Mexico, and summon the science and reason, the justice and compassion required to end the global war on drugs.