Friday, July 17, 2020

Another Righteous Movement for Abolition is Needed NOW!

The democratic campaign issue over reparations for slavery has once again brought the discussion of American slavery to the forefront of the public square and has even carried the debate from the campaign trail to the halls of Congress. The backlash from the democratic rhetoric on race in America has a backlash from conservatives and once again the false issues raised by politicians vying for power are inflaming divisions among Americans, divisions that are born from ignorant sound bite politics. I have no interest in taking on the subject of reparations, because frankly it's an absurd topic, but what I feel compelled to write about are irritating ironies that continually come to mind as I observe the discussions of slavery and race issues in our highly partisan public square.

There are critical truths about slavery that are completely lost in the modern consciousness and these truths will remain buried until Americans are provided a clear historical perspective and a clear view of our own times. Ironically, Americans today overwhelmingly repudiate and denounce slavery as a great evil, and condemn American generations of the past for their complicit involvement in the practice of slavery, or the ineffectual opposition to it, yet blithely ignore the reality that slavery continues in our time. This paradox is even more profound when you consider that our universal outrage over early American slavery is the product of a value set that wouldn’t have come to be if it hadn’t been for the American political revolution and the founding of the United States of America, which came to us, ironically, through generations of disaffected slave owners.

In the black libertarian's book, “The Thomas Sowell Reader,” Thomas Sowell provides some valuable perspective and historical context about slavery in the chapter titled “Twisted History”:

“Of all the tragic facts about the history of slavery, the most astonishing to an American today is that, although slavery was a worldwide institution for thousands of years, nowhere in the world was slavery a controversial issue prior to the 18th century. People of every race and color were enslaved – and enslaved others. White people were still being bought and sold as slaves in the Ottoman Empire, decades after American blacks were freed.

"Everyone hated the idea of being a slave but few had any qualms about enslaving others. Slavery was just not an issue, not even among intellectuals, much less among political leaders, until the 18th century – and then it was an issue only in Western civilization. Among those who turned against slavery in the 18th century were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and other American leaders. You could research all of the 18th century Africa or Asia or the Middle East without finding any comparable rejection of slavery there. But who is singled out for scathing criticism today? American leaders of the 18th century.

“It is clear from the private correspondence of Washington, Jefferson, and many others that their moral rejection of slavery was unambiguous, but the practical question of what to do now had them baffled. That would remain so for more than half a century.

“That question was finally answered by a war in which one life was lost [620,000 Civil War casualties] for every six people freed [3.9 million]. Maybe that was the only answer. But don’t pretend today that it was an easy answer – or that those who grappled with the dilemma in the 18th century were some special villains when most leaders and most people around the world saw nothing wrong with slavery.

Most Americans are familiar with the oft repeated proverb, "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it," and yet they are not so aware that we are repeating the complacent attitudes of the past toward one of the most vile human crimes, slavery. The September 2003 issue of National Geographic had an article, titled “21st Century Slaves,” about the millions of people still enslaved around the world right now.

“There are an estimated 27 million men, women, and children in the world who are enslaved — physically confined or restrained and forced to work, or controlled through violence, or in some way treated as property.

"Therefore, there are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade [11 million total, and about 450,000, or about 4% of the total, who were brought to the United States]. The modern commerce in humans rivals illegal drug trafficking in its global reach—and in the destruction of lives.”

But where is the moral indignation about that? While modern Americans vilify past generations as evil racist and advocate for social justice in our times by goading white Americans to feel and act upon a sort of “white guilt,” the horrors of slavery continue right under our distracted metaphorical noses. Rather than spending valuable rhetorical space trying to “repair the past,” we should look to the conditions of human suffering in our own day and fight the battles for human justice that need fighting in the here and now.

This month the U.S. State Department released a report that listed the top three nations of origin for victims of human trafficking in 2018 were the United States, Mexico and the Philippines. While the liberal media continues to focus on a race war in America and publish stories about political leaders calling for reparations for slavery, Fox News reported on the “tremendous numbers of kids... being sold as sex slaves today in America.” And is exposing a great modern evil in the human trafficking of child sex slaves in which 50 percent to 60 percent of victims are “coming out of the foster care industry.”

We must stop living in an endless outrage over the crimes of past generations and wake up to the blood on the hands of our own generation!! “We have a major issue here in the United States” Geoff Rogers, co-founder of the United States Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT), said in an interview with Fox News. “The United States is the No. 1 consumer of sex worldwide. So we are driving the demand as a society.”

This is not the slavery of the past that was generally the result of the primeval demands of labor, this is an evil of debauched ease, an outgrowth of licentious sexual appetite born of the degraded morality of our world. reports that, “The United States is a source, transit and destination country for sex trafficking victims. Trafficked men, women and children are typically taken to brothels, escort services, massage parlors, strip clubs or hotels and are prostituted on the streets or forced to participate in pornography. Primary countries of origin for foreign victims in FY 2013 were Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand, Honduras, Guatemala, India and El Salvador. Americans may also be trafficked within the U.S. or sent to other industrialized states such as the Netherlands, Germany and Japan.” In today’s slave trade people, especially young people and children, are taken out of the world’s poor and disadvantaged population and sold into slavery, and mostly not to farm or do house work, but to be used as sex slaves.

It’s not that we shouldn’t be outraged by the slavery of the past, it’s that we get the realities of the past wrong while ignoring the realities right in front of us. We judge past generations as though we stand on a firm moral high ground, but if we would open our eyes we’d discover we are sinking in a sandy foundation.

When American children learn about the sad realities that African Americans were taken into slavery to exploited for labor in the New World and that slavery continued even after American Independence because of the economic impact of abolishing slavery, it is incomprehensible to them that people they were taught to revere, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, could possibly have been slave owners. However, these same students have no idea how many of their “modern heroes,” many in the entertainment industry which has close ties to America’s pornography and sex industry, are involved in the exploitation of humans in an ever growing industry of human trafficking.

Forbes recently reported the massive scope of the slave industry today, “Slavery is alive and well in the land of the free. With human trafficking now a multi-billion-dollar industry worldwide and cases increasing in the United States... Human trafficking is estimated to bring in global profits of about $150 billion a year—$99 billion from sexual exploitation, according to the International Labor Organization... “This is not only a dominant issue, it’s an epidemic issue,” Cindy McCain, who chairs the McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council said. “It’s also something that is hiding in plain sight. It’s everywhere—it’s absolutely everywhere.”

Today we hear a constant cultural chatter about reparations for the failings of past generations but we are failing to even fight the battles against the slavery of our times. Rather than talking about white guilt and the reparations for the slavery of the past we should be spending our resources and spilling our own blood to end the slavery that continues to ravage the lives of people today. America’s issues with slavery are not buried in the battles of the past, they are alive in the streets of our cities under our sleeping consciousness. It’s far past time that Americans stopped expending our political and social energies on artificial social and race divisions and begin to pull together in a righteous movement for the abolition of the despicable forms of slavery still existent in our world today.

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