Former President Donald Trump, speaking in Las Vegas Friday night, issued a new call for the death penalty for convicted drug traffickers, among others.
Knowing he would be criticized, Trump said his statement would either get standing applause or people would walk out. He went on to declare China does not have the drug problem faced by the U.S. and called for modeling the handling of traffickers similar to their way.
Countries around the world who do not struggle with drug addiction and deaths are those that execute drug dealers, he noted to applause. He congratulated China for having a “quick trial” policy where upon being found guilty, the trafficker is immediately executed.
Now, he said, drugs flow out of China and into nations that are softer on dealers and traffickers. In particular, across the American southern border, which he said is “out of control” because he is not there.
Trump included cop killers and human traffickers in the group to pay the ultimate price.
Critics of course lashed out at the former president, and one weapon used was the claim that China indeed has a drug problem. Many cited an official 2016 report that there were 2.51 million drug users in China, a 6.8% jump over the previous year.
Incomplete numbers are worse than no numbers at all, so for comparison, China had a population of roughly 1.4 billion in 2016. Of those, 2.51 million were counted as drug users.
As of 2020, the U.S. counted over 37 million users. That’s out of a total population of just under 330 million. The conclusion critics attempted to push is patently false.
Back in 2018, Trump took the predictable criticism from the predictable sources when his three-part plan to combat the opioid epidemic included capital punishment for drug dealers. Announcing that he wasn’t “being nice anymore,” the then-president said without it “we’re wasting our time.”
Never mind that the plan included education to reduce demand, stemming the flow of illicit drugs and expanding treatment. These proposals were welcomed.
But not capital punishment. In the vision, Trump laid out four years ago, “toughness is the thing that (drug traffickers) most fear.”
The United Nations in 2015 issued a report concluding that capital punishment for drug offenses, not particularly trafficking, does not meet global standards. It also said that drug laws may single out marginalized groups.
Possibly, and Trump doubtlessly was not calling out street-level dealers. But for those who traffick death to hundreds of thousands, it’s a tough sell to say his proposal is unjust.