Baltimore drug campaign:
BELIEVE ... in what?

Jun 3, 2002

A city coalition on drugs began a new campaign this spring which is supposed to fight the use of illegal drugs. By the city’s own estimate, there are 60,000 drug addicts in Baltimore. Less than five% of them receive any kind of drug treatment.

Baltimore, like every other city, experiences thousands of drug transactions weekly, including violent crimes leading to thousands of arrests which clog the courts and the prisons. Hundreds die each year in drug-related shootings.

So what is this magic campaign, which supposedly will eradicate the problem? An advertising campaign: huge billboards all over the city with one word, “BELIEVE.” And a four-minute video has been produced, showing how drugs affect a child in Baltimore. “BELIEVE” ads are seen on TVand heard on the radio stations.

BELIEVE, and you won’t feel the need for drugs: so goes the myth. In other words, under the guise of fighting the scourge of drug addiction, they try to reinforce one of the most reactionary prejudices on the population.

Just BELIEVE. It won’t make all the poverty and violence disappear. It won’t create housing for the city’s poorest residents in the 14,000 vacant buildings it has boarded up. It won’t allow the schools to start educating the children of Baltimore, schools in which only one-third of fifth graders read at grade level. It won’t stop the more than 70% of high school students who drop out.

But, for capitalist society, which creates all these evils, a “BELIEVE” campaign has a real advantage. It suckers the victims of capitalism into bearing its evils stoically. How ironic – drugs do the same thing.