Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Slave Trade Is Alive and Well

And when will a nation on the face of the earth have the moral courage to do something radical about it?

One of the most powerful scenes, I think, in the movie Amistad (and there were several vying for the top notch) was when the British Admiral is decimating the African Slave Fortress and he orders to send word that the Slave Fortress, whose existence was questioned during the court proceedings, no longer exists.

I realize it was a movie which may have played light and loose with historical facts, but if human trafficking (“slavery”) is really the problem that was alluded to on several occasions by Bush and which the Vatican is renewing efforts to stamp out, where’s the moral outrage? Where's the outcry?

And why do I associate celebrity activism in Africa with hunger and AIDS and NOT human trafficking? Why is that? Is it just me? I’m trying to be fair, here, but do a few Google searches for “human trafficking and Bono” and see what you get. Use the advance search qualifier –pro so you don’t get a lot of “pro bono” in your results. On the other hand, just Google “Bono Africa” and a wealth of stories comes up leading with a Time Magazine article, “Can Bono Save the World?”

Now, I don’t want to be unfair so if someone out there can find out what Bono’s been doing to fight human trafficking in Africa using different search terms please let me know. Or maybe Bono himself can contact me and tell me what he’s been doing draw attention to social causes that actually need attention drawn to them.

I think a lot of the problem is that the average citizen may not really believe there's a problem. The media hardly talks about it and, besides, it just seems so “otherworldly”. School taught us that slavery was abolished in this country because of the Civil War. We all learn to recite the creed that “Lincoln freed the slaves”. That knowledge and that mantra is internalized into “slavery doesn’t exist anymore”. But there IS still slavery--even in this country. Illegalization has just driven it underground.

So what’s the solution? Legalize it? Empower our police to raid houses and places of business door-to-door to uncover illegal activity that wouldn’t otherwise be brought to light? Make penalities a real deterrent? Or just live with it pick away at it the same way we’ve done with drug trafficking for the last 90 or so years?

Last I heard we’re not winning that war either.

But here's a question I'd like to have debate on? What SHOULD the penalty be for forcibly enslaving someone? Life? Death? Or just the temporary loss of one's OWN freedom? What if the forcible enslavement that someone was responsible for leads to the death of the slave? Are we talking "eye for eye" here? C'mon! What's fair? What's just? What's reasonable?

At least the government’s doing something—though I understand that Joe Biden was one of two senators making it difficult to get this legislation passed. (The other was Sam Brownback.)

(I got on this tangent listing to Morning Air on Relevant Radio this morning. I urge Catholics, Christians, and Curious to check it out:

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