The War on Drugs: Is Propaganda Disguising the Battlefield?

Photo Credit: Appalachian State University
Photo Credit: Appalachian State University

When it comes to media coverage it is expected that those who are receiving the news will be given the complete facts, right? Not according to Dr. Matthew Robinson, professor of Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian State University. Dr. Robinson visited the University of West Georgia last Monday to speak about the “100 Years of Propaganda: Media Coverage of Drugs and the War on Drugs”. The lecture, which was co-hosted by the UWG Criminology and the UWG Mass Communications departments, expressed to UWG students about the alleged end of the drug war, and the role that the media has played in order to make this ending believable to the public.

“Propaganda has always been used since day one to justify having a drug war to begin with,” said Robinson. “It is used to justify continuing it in spite of failure, and even to expand it even when it does not need to be expanded.”

Robinson has spent several years researching the rate of drug use in the United States. Throughout his research, he discovered that the statistics that were being released by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) claiming the amount of drug use in Americans between the ages of 18 to 25 was declining.

“Drug use is not down among young adults or actual adults,” said Robinson. “We as taxpayers are spending more money each year, so that the government can put a stop to this drug war, but drug users are not ending their use but only switching to more dangerous drugs.”

Through the use of propaganda, the government has come up with several campaigns to urge Americans to put a stop to drug use. One campaign in particular that Robinson focused on was the 1985, “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign that was led by Nancy Reagan. The campaign seemed to be targeted for children, yet the data that was released to support the campaign did not coincide to its target market.

“When you Google this ‘Just Say no to Drugs’ campaign, you see photos of Nancy Reagan with children, but the research data that was being studied to establish the campaign was actually meant for people that were between the ages of 18 to 25.” Robinson said.

By the conclusion of the lecture, both Robinson as well as his research had established that the drug war has not yet come to an end, and will most likely continue as long as taxpayers are spending the money to support the governmental research. Also, with the use of propaganda, the government will continue to cover up the deceptions that have reinforced that the idea that the drug war has ended.



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