In January 1920, the 18th Amendment became the law of the land in the United States, banning the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol. It took almost fourteen years for us to realize and acknowledge what a huge mistake that had been, but the 21st Amendment finally repealed Prohibition. But not before a huge and profitable black market was established that fueled the growth of a massive organized crime presence throughout the country. And it was the astonishing acts of violence perpetrated by these mobsters in defense of their “turf” that ultimately convinced America that Prohibition must be repealed.
But we didn’t learn our lesson. Instead, in the last forty years, we simply shifted the target of our Prohibition (to other drugs) and we also allowed Congress to forgo the supreme inconvenience of amending the Constitution before passing an endless stream of legislation that has created more crime, more violence, and higher incarceration rates than were ever seen during the Roaring Twenties. And public sentiment is not as bad this time around because we’ve also managed to outsource much of the violence.
If the drug-related violence in the US is not shocking enough to warrant comparison to the mobsters of days gone by, one need only look south to the hellscape that Mexico has become as a result of our so-called War on Drugs. Mexicans now yearn for gangsters who only shoot automatic weapons at each other, instead of the kidnappings, beheadings, and mass graves that now make up their daily news. The cruelty and brutality on display every day by the drug lords can perhaps only be described as medieval, and Mexico is on the verge of becoming a failed state, simply because we have made the drug trade so insanely profitable.
I’m sure Mexicans are ready to repeal Prohibition. Too bad it’s not their decision to make.