CNDP January 2017 Newsletter #1
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With 2017 Upon Us ...

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

If we are not to repeat the past, we must seek to understand it.  That is why we have asked our colleague Kathryn Ray to introduce us to the thought of French anthropologist, literary critic, and philosopher René Girard.   William Fried of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) makes clear how Girard’s concepts of scapegoating and violence has continued to fuel the War on Drugs.  

A lifelong personal friend offers guidance on paths to rebuilding trust.  Finally, Eric Sterling, head of the Criminal Justice Foundation, calls upon us raise our voices on behalf of clemency for those languishing in federal prison for non-violent drug offenses.

We look forward to our continued work with all of you in 2017.

Rev. Alexander E. Sharp, 
Executive Director, Clergy for a New Drug Policy
2016: “The Year of the Scapegoat”

Regardless of our politics, surely we can agree that 2016 was a brutal year.   What made it so ugly were the steady expressions of hatred against every imaginable group  – African Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, middle-eastern refugees, Asians, LGBTs – and a litany of others.  It is not an exaggeration to brand 2016 as “The Year of the Scapegoat.”  

We use here theologian René Girard’s definition of scapegoating: “the strange process through which two or more people are reconciled at the expense of a third party or who appears responsible for whatever ails, disturbs, or frightens the scapegoats.”  

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Urgent Appeal for Clemency

I have a confession: I have harbored an instinctive aversion to René Girard since the first time I read his seminal work Violence and the Sacred.  I resist sweeping theories that attempt to account for the entire nature and destiny of humankind.  It seems like an arrogant enterprise.  So when right-wing, millennial commentator Tomi Lahren tells Daily Show host Trevor Noah that Black Lives Matter is the new KKK, I took it like a kick to the stomach.

The first reason is because it seems unconscionable to compare a protest group to a network of individuals that systematically terrorized, raped, tortured, and murdered African Americans for over a century. The second reason is because it forced me to concede, and not for the first time, that Girard got a few things right. Viewed through his theory of scapegoating, Lahren’s theory, while still outrageous, also makes complete sense.

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Take Action
Abolish Civil Asset Forfeiture 
The government should not be able to seize property from innocent people. Help end policing for profit. 

Roll Back Harsh Mandatory Minimum Drug Laws
Ask your legislators to cosponsor the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.
Sign CNDP's Religious Declaration 
Join an interfaith cooperative against the War on Drugs.
Copyright © 2017 Clergy for a New Drug Policy, All rights reserved.
Clergy for a New Drug Policy 111 W. Jackson Blvd Chicago, IL 60604

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