The DEA’s Whitewashing of Harry J. Anslinger

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, I was doing a great deal of research on topical events tied to the murder. One of those topics is the racist War on Drugs. I had planned a two-part series on the War on Drugs and how it was a racist institution from its inception. What I found sent me off on a tangent.

During my research, I discovered that there’s a DEA Museum unsurprisingly owned by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). The museum has a website that features some of their exhibits. The one that caught my eye is dedicated to the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (a precursor to the DEA) — Harry J. Anslinger.

All of this sounds pretty mundane until you consider the fact that Anslinger was a dedicated racist. Worse, the DEA Museum has completely whitewashed his racism from their website. Nary a mention of how he sold the War on Drugs using race, or any of his famously racist quotes.

Without getting into too much detail about Anslinger’s racism (covered in greater depth in Part I of the War on Drugs), I’ll leave a few quotes:

Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.

There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.

Colored students at the Univ. of Minn. partying with (white) female students, smoking [marijuana] and getting their sympathy with stories of racial persecution. Result: pregnancy.

…the increase [in drug addiction] is practically 100 percent among Negro people.

Two Negros took a girl fourteen years old and kept her for two days under the influence of hemp. Upon recovery she was found to be suffering from syphilis.

Their satanic music is driven by marijuana, and marijuana smoking by white women makes them want to seek sexual relations with Negroes.

Anslinger was so petty of a man that he directed his agents to arrest Billie Holiday in her hospital bed as she lay dying from liver and heart disease. Of course, you won’t find that on the DEA Museum’s website. You won’t find any of the quotes listed above, either. Nor will you find any mention of how he sold the War on Drugs using fears of race and race-mixing.

According to the DEA’s narrative, Anslinger was a saint of government service. As Americans, we should be ashamed that a taxpayer-funded entity has completely whitewashed his racist past.

I’ve archived the site in its present form as of 06/29/2020 here.