Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

Attorney General Eric Holder will tell you he has a lot of power. But will he use any of that power to stop or even slow down the futile and corrupt War on Drugs, the 40th anniversary of which falls this month? David Simon, producer of the HBO TVseries “The Wire,” makes the attorney general an offer he should not refuse, but probably will....

"The Wire” Producer to Attorney-General Eric Holder – “End the War On Drugs”

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The functionaries of the Obama administration, like those of every preceding regime, live in a different world than the rest of us. The distance between them and us was underscored once again when Attorney General Eric Holder invited several actors from the HBO TV series The Wire to a Justice Department media event intended to highlight the harm that illegal drugs do to children.

The attorney general, addressing the audience and naming the show's producers, said “Do another season of the Wire... I want another season, or a movie,” he said, adding “I have a lot of power...”

Apparently the attorney general is a big fan of the show, but one of those lazy, inattentive fans who doesn't care to look too deeply. Among much else, The Wire depicts the moral corruption and futility of the so-called war on drugs, which has been waged mostly in the nation's poor and black neighborhoods for forty years now. If anything, the show is a stinging indictment of Mr. Holder's predecessors and of the Obama administration which, despite its “Hope and Change” branding, has chosen to co-sign and continued the War on Drugs rather than fulfill the wishes of the comunities swept this president and attorney general into office.

In other words, use your power to end the war on drugs, Simon told the attorney-general, and we'll use ours to make another season of The Wire. 

The attorney general was right about one thing. He does have a lot of power, and even a lighthearted remark from so powerful an individual deserves an appropriate response. That response was not long in coming.

The Attorney-General's kind remarks are noted and appreciated,” replied the show's producer David Simon. “I've spoken to Ed Burns and we are prepared to go to work on season six of The Wire if the Department of Justice is equally ready to reconsider and address its continuing prosecution of our misguided, destructive and dehumanising drug prohibition.”

In other words, use your power to end the war on drugs, Simon told the attorney-general, and we'll use ours to make another season of The Wire. This week will mark the 40th anniversary of the War on Drugs, orginally proclaimed by President Nixon. At a cost by now reckoned in the trillions of dollars, this hypocritical, and futile war has been used as an excuse to selectively over-police and lock up vast numbers of mostly black and brown youth, even though their rates of drug use are statistically no higher than rates of white drug use.

One of the Obama administration's most listened-to promises in Black America was the pledge to do away with the longstanding 100 to 1 difference in penalties between crack and powdered cocaine. But even with the power of the attorney-general's office, the White House and Democratic majorities in both houses of congress, all the administration was willing to get was a reduction in that disparity from 100 to 1 to 18 to 1, and that was mostly achieved by raising the penalties for powdered cocaine. Eric Holder and the Obama Administration have a lot of power, to be sure. They're just not interested in using it for the people, by ending the War on Drugs.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Marietta GA, where he is also on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.

In other words, David Simon was saying, end the war on drugs and we'll get right on that sixth season thing.

Direct download: 20110615_bd_the_wire.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:29am EDT