Monday, March 05, 2007

May Wilberforce be with You!

Last night, I finally saw "Amazing Grace". It's the first movie I've seen in quite a while (no...I don't get out very often).

The other week, I made a series of posts touching upon the issue of slavery, as it relates to the topic of the movie and the fallacies of judging yesteryear through the prism of today's moral standards. Since I read or heard the producer, Ken Wales, make mention that the Wilberforce movie should refocus people's attention to the fact that the battle to eradicate slavery is not yet ended, I was surprised not to see slavery in the 21st century mentioned in the closing credits.

Last week, Mona Charen used Al Sharpton's stunned reaction to revelations on his heritage as a springboard to talk about the following:

The U.S. Department of State recently released a report on human trafficking. "As unimaginable as it seems," begins the report, "slavery and bondage still persist in the early 21st century. Millions of people around the world still suffer in silence in slave-like situations of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation from which they cannot free themselves. Trafficking in persons is one of the greatest human rights challenges of our time."

Each year, an estimated 600,000-800,000 men, women and children are trafficked against their will across international borders. According to the White House, 14,500-17,500 of these are trafficked into the United States. Some are forced to work in sweatshops and farms, but most are domestic workers and prostitutes. A typical case is that of "Maria," a Guatemalan who was lured to the U.S. by a "coyote" when she was 12. Once in Florida, she was raped and forced to submit to prostitution. She did not speak the language and was threatened with violence if she attempted to escape.

Poor women from the Philippines stream into Saudi Arabia seeking jobs as domestics. It is not uncommon for their employers to confiscate their passports, force them to work seven days a week, and confiscate all or most of their salaries as compensation for room and board. Some escape. Most do not.

In Burma, and in several countries in Africa, children as young as 11 are kidnapped and forced to become soldiers. The State Department's trafficking report quotes a 13-year-old former soldier from Liberia who told of being drugged. "They gave me pills that made me crazy. When the craziness got in my head, I beat people and made them bleed."

Elsewhere, the exploitation of children for "child sex tourism" is a thriving industry. In Thailand, Cambodia and Costa Rica, as well as other nations, pedophiles traveling from all over the globe are offered their choice of male or female victims from among the poorest classes. The children can be as young as 5.

In 2003, President Bush signed the PROTECT Act, which makes sex tourism by Americans a crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison, which is a start. But thousands upon thousands of children continue to be raped, beaten and abused for years on end, and then thrown away when they reach adulthood.

We don't have to imagine what life is like for these slaves. We can ask them. And the best way to honor the lives of our ancestors who suffered under slavery is to do what we can to free those who are suffering now.

It's the 200th anniversary of Wilberforce's victory in the British Parliament to bringing about an end to the slavetrade. 26 years later and 3 days before he died, Britain also finally freed its slaves. Back then, many who grew up around the institution took it for granted, never questioning the ethics of slavery. Today we have no such excuse. How many more years will it be, still, until human trafficking and enslavement is eradicated?

If Al Sharpton wanted to do something truly Wilberforce-shaking and awe-inspiring, he would focus on today's problems of real slavery, rather than focus his energies and divert people's attention on unrealistic talks of reparations and victimhood, and race-profiteering.

For a truly inspiring version of "Amazing Grace", download (right click, save target as) Lisbeth Scott's rendition of the John Newton song, from Paul Schwartz's "State of Grace". Let me know how it downloads, and what you think of this version.

Hat tip to Jennifer Gallagher for mention of FileDen, at Mike's America.

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Blogger Mark said...

I want to see that movie, and there are others I want to see as well, but I have some catching up to do befroe I can do that.

Monday, March 05, 2007 8:02:00 AM  
Anonymous yankeemom said...

I haven't seen the movie yet. But my first thought when I read about it was pretty much as Mona's ~ I've read much on the slave trade still going on in the world. I came across this article in my surfing for my post on child pron and Rust-Tierney yesterday.
We have put an end to legalized slavery in this country. Other countries have not. So it's still happening in this country as those who are bought in other countries are sold here.

Monday, March 05, 2007 9:00:00 AM  
Anonymous yankeemom said...

Oh and I loved this version of "Amazing Grace" ~ it downloaded just fine for me.

Monday, March 05, 2007 9:02:00 AM  
Blogger Stew Magoo said...

I'm sorry, you intimated that Al Sharpton might want to help others...

Ooooh I get it!

(Sharpton makes me ill)

Monday, March 05, 2007 7:04:00 PM  
Blogger Curt said...

Stew's comment hit the nail on the head. Sharpton is only out for himself. Publicity, money, power....anything else doesn't matter to him. He is a disgrace to not only the black race but the human race.

Monday, March 05, 2007 10:41:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

yankeemom, click onto the Sharpton cartoon for another article.

I'm glad someone gave me feedback on the download. Lol.

stew and curt,

yes, Sharpton makes his fortune as a race-profiteer.

Monday, March 05, 2007 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox said...

Well said!!!!!! I can't wait to see Amazing Grace also.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 5:08:00 PM  

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