Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Slavery in the 21st century

It seems unbelievable that in a global world where everywhere is the village next to ours we have a force claiming in the name of religion that education for girls is sinful and thus has the right to kidnap educated girls and sell them as slaves.

Boko Haram is one of the contemporary faces of pernicious evil.

I see now - e.g. on Twitter - a rising crescendo of people willing to pray and protest about the lack of action of the Nigerian government in response to this evil. Let's join the movement.

UPDATE: Good to read this report of expanding action in Nigeria itself.

23 comments:

tachesterton said...

Unbelievable. Except it's happening.

Tim

carl jacobs said...

The suppression of slavery was very much a function of Western dominance. As the power of the West recedes in the world, many things are going to re-emerge. Man hasn't "progressed" you see. We mistake Western ideas undergirded by Western power for some kind of fundamental change in man's nature.

Much worse than this is coming. China has a terrible woman shortage. They must make it up. How are they going to do that? And who has the power to stop them if they choose methods inconsistent with faded Western notions of progress?

carl

Father Ron Smith said...

One wonders what sort of protest is being made by the Anglican Church in Nigeria - on the lack of government action on this appalling practice.

Peter Carrell said...

You are feeding my anxiety about the future of the world, Carl!!

Kurt said...

As far as I know, those anti-slavery treaties that were signed in the nineteenth century are still in effect.

In 1819 the United States and the United Kingdom signed a treaty to foster cooperation in suppressing the African slave trade. Out of this agreement the US Navy Africa Squadron and the British West Africa Squadron worked together. In 1842 the USA and the UK signed the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which beefed up the naval forces in the area.

Maybe we Americans should re-establish the Africa Squadron; you folks Down Under could contribute to a Commonwealth West Africa Squadron.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

carl jacobs said...

Kurt

How very pacifist of you.

In fact, this whole story is a textbook example of the moral failure of pacifism. Which is why people who praise the concept on Monday will quietly reach for the Fleet on Tuesday.

Because if people are sent out to find these girls, they will have to be sent out with guns.

carl

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl/Kurt
The bit of pacifism I cannot commit myself to is the restraint from any kind of use of weapons for all kinds of occasions.

If my daughter were among the hostages I would want all means of securing release to be available ... while hoping that a peaceful outcome could be negotiated, if only to ensure that all the girls were released without loss of life.

tachesterton said...

Carl:

You are indeed correct that pacifism does not have an easy answer to the question of what we should do in Sa situation like this.

I should point out, however, that the Just War tradition has a similar dilemma in a situation when the demands of strategic bombing require the killing of children like these in order to achieve military goals. The fire bombing of Dresden comes to mind, or the use of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Tim

carl jacobs said...

Peter

Pacifism is like leaven. It's either there or it's not. There is no such thing as conditional pacifism. Once you admit a single case for the necessity of violence, you have removed yourself from the realm of pacifism and entered the realm of qualified application of force. They are mutually exclusive.

And a desire for negotiation although understandable must be suppressed. The kidnappers cannot be rewarded for this act. The lives of those not yet kidnapped are just as important as the lives currently at risk. The kidnappers must lose and must be seen to lose. That won't happen through negotiation. The father of a kidnap victim will not see it that way, if course. He values his daughter to the exclusion of all else. That's why people with a personal stake cannot be allowed to determine the course of events.

carl

Peter Carrell said...

Points taken, Carl!

carl jacobs said...

Tim

It's not just that pacifism doesn't have an easy answer. It doesn't have any answer. It is by its very nature precluded from ever finding an answer because the answer requires violence. The first person to praise you for your eloquent defense if Pacifism a few weeks back was Kurt. And here he immediately suggests deployment of Naval forces. The contrast is striking. And revealing. Violent men must often be met with violence. Justice demands it. We all know this inherently. That is why some are given in authority to employ it. And here in this example we see the truth of it.

I don't have much use for Just War Theory. But the atomic bombings are easily encompassed within its borders and not just for military exigency. It takes account of all the people who didn't die. The 400,000 POWs who didn't die. The Chinese who didn't die in the continuing war that no longer needed to be fought. The Koreans who didn't die. The Americans and Brits and other allies who didn't die. The (quite literally) millions of Japanese who didn't die. You can't just focus on the 200,000 who died in the bombings. You have to consider the 25 million who otherwise lived. Failing to act has consequences. You can't just wash your hands and say "Well, at least we didn't kill them.". But that is what pacifism would counsel.

carl

Jean said...

Hi Carl

I would have to disagree with many points you make.

There have been many successful non-violent (pacifist?) actions many in your own country:

We have Martin Luther King Jr. his preaching and response in the face of death threats, and eventually His own death but the final outcome was in favour of His cause.

We have the destruction of the Berlin Wall initiated by churches preaching on Love, leading to a peaceful protest of millions of people, leading to them destroying the wall and the soldiers refusing to fire.

We have the people of Hungary so discontent with the ruling party of their country they formed a peaceful protest and literally invaded their parliament without any obstruction from officials.

We have unarmed UNICEF officials who negotiated the release of hundreds of child soldiers, including the now famous author and former child soldier Ishmael Beah.

I do encourage you to read, "Jesus For President" I think you would find it a challenge. I found one moving story about a soldier who had been posted to Iraq being convicted that He could no longer maintain His faith and return again, so he told the US Army he would go back but not with a gun. He was discharged from the army cited as having a maladjustment disorder. He immediately signed up with christian peacekeeping mission and returned to the Middle East. I do wonder if the freedom of gun ownership in the US has made your country a safer place to live?

As for:
"The suppression of slavery was very much a function of Western dominance"

Umm from my history lessons the existence of many forms of slavery were initiated by Western dominance. Dare I mention the origins of the African Americans?

Of course I support the pressure put on the Nigerian government to take action. But the best action is taken with advice from those with expertise in these situations - such experience may involve military personnel but it may not either. No one wants to 'reward' those who commit crimes, but no one wants to see the victims killed either.

I realise the US has a culture closely aligned to your military. But the same is not prevalent in New Zealand. Certainly we have fought in wars, and have veterans, but the majority of soldiers are used as peacekeeping forces.

What is termed modern day slavery is a complex problem and the most effective forms used to tackle it have been educating parents about the dangers of child traffickers, organisations set up at borders to intercept children as they are trafficked, and prosecuting the groups in countries where the children end up e.g. many Albanian children (girls) are prostitutes in Italy, and incidently even our beloved New Zealand has had a rise in children trafficked for prostitution since its legalisation.

Sorry but you struck a passionate bone.

Father Ron Smith said...

"LORD, MAKE ME AN INSTRUMENT OF YOUR PEACE" - Franciscan Prayer

Kurt said...

As usual, carl, you miss the nuances. For you things are either black or white with no shading whatsoever. Your theology, I think, epitomizes this, too. Polls in America show that such rigidity of mind is a principle reason why Millennials here are fleeing organized religion in droves.

As I recall in our last exchange on this topic, I explained that I was a SEMI-pacifist, not a pacifist. I have great respect for Tim and his principled pacifism. I certainly agree with him that pacifism has been part of the Christian tradition since the very beginning of our Faith; after all Jesus is the Prince of Peace, isn’t He? Likewise, I have great respect for the American Quakers and other pacifist denominations, who, in many ways, have been beacons of social justice in this country for centuries—including providing leadership to the anti-slavery struggle. I’m afraid, however, that I personally simply do not have what it takes to be a pacifist. I wish that this were not the case, but it is what it is, so I have learned to live with the ambiguities.

Let me be clear, carl, so that even you can understand what I am saying and what I am not saying: As a political and social activist I’m willing to try the non-violent approach to social change first. Jean is quite right, tactically, if not strategically, non-violent resistance to social evils in a myriad of social struggles has been quite effective, both in America and abroad (e.g., the civil resistance in Denmark in WWII, the independence movement in India, the American Civil Rights movement, etc.) But while I have a preference for non-violent solutions to social and political problems that does not mean I would refuse to use other means when non-violent methods fail. “It takes two to Tango,” is a popular expression. Unfortunately, the other side often will not allow for non-violence. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was a justified rebellion against evil, even if it used firearms. Obviously the Vietnamese freedom fighters would have preferred non-violence to free their country from foreign interference, but American imperialism had other ideas. So the Vietnamese responded accordingly.

I have no problem with using physical force against those who would enslave others. It is, I believe, a lesser evil than allowing such conditions to continue.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY


tachesterton said...

Carl:

My apologies for this very quick answer; I'm on my way to one meeting, then flying to Toronto first thing tomorrow morning for a three day meeting. So this is off the cuff and with little thought.

1. I find it revealing that as soon as we move from a discussion of homosexuality to a discussion of war and violence you leave the teaching of Jesus and the apostles behind completely and resort to 'common sense' answers. 'We all know this inherently' is not a gospel position: we all know inherently that the prodigal son was an idiot and the older brother was a wise and good man, but that isn't the point that Jesus makes. The cross was not a common sense answer. Taking up your cross and following Jesus is not a common sense answer. Turning the other cheek, loving your enemies etc. is not a common sense answer. But they are central to the NT witness. And that leads me to the second point.

2. I struggle to see how your position is related to the Gospel at all. How is your answer to this question different because you are a follower of Jesus?

3. Basically your position on the nuclear bombings seems to be 'the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few'. This is another resample of non-gospel-related math on your part. It sounds like the shepherd saying, "I've lost one sheep, but if I go out to look for it there will be no one left here to protect the 99, so I'd better stay here and accept it as an unavoidable loss'.

4. You do not know the future. Yes, we all know that Allied propaganda says that million sod people would have died, but we have no way of knowing what would actually have happened. Who predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communism in Europe in 1989?

Okay, must go now, my apologies.

Tim

carl jacobs said...

Jean

I'm not sure why you think any of that matters to the situation at hand. Do you think you can solve this problem by marching a million unarmed women on the kidnappers? All of them linking arms and singing "We shall overcome" until the pricked conscience of the kidnappers forces a change of heart. Here, demonstrate your commitment to a non-violent solution. Put 1000 virgins in the vanguard - all of them teenage girls and all of them educated. Do I have to tell you what would happen? No, I don't. You know quite well. That's why you would never be so foolish as to suggest it.

It's true. Not every problem requires a violent solution. Who said otherwise? But here we have men who took three hundred girls by force, and are determined to keep what they have taken by force. You could be foolish enough to buy them back - in which case they will just go kidnap more girls to earn more money. (Except now the kidnapper can rape them first because you will buy them back regardless, and he doesn't have to worry about maintaining their cash value.) Otherwise, you are going to have to take them back by force. And that doesn't mean an unenforceable order from some idiot judge sitting on some irrelevant International Criminal Court in Belgium. That means men with guns on the ground closing with - and killing - the bad guys.

Non-violence depends upon the forebearance of the authority being resisted. You could resist in such a way in the US. The gov't won't shoot you down. But in North Korea? In China? Do you think that if the Japanese Navy had showed up in the Port of Auckland in the Spring of 1942 that it would have been impressed by non-violent resistance? Would it have fled from your shores and left you in peace? You have much to learn if you think that would have been the case.

For seventy years, you have stood behind the American wall. It's easy to take the wall for granted when you think no one can scale it. But the Chinese are building a blue-water navy, and its problematic how well the US can maintain its presence against such emerging power from such a distance. They seek to drive us from the SW Pacific, and they might very well succeed. Then the only thing between you and China would be a 1000 miles of ocean. You might should rethink you attitude towards the purpose of soldiers and the place of the military in your culture. Peacekeepers aren't of much use once the war starts.

carl

Jean said...

Hi Carl

A lot of what I mentioned was generic, I was responding to your comments which widened the scope of the topic such as - pacifism doesn't have any answer, because the answer is violence.

I wanted to point out examples where non-violence (which I prefer to the use of the word pacifism which has loaded connotations) has had a positive outcome. Contrary to what you voice in the examples I gave the people did risk their lives, especially those in East Germany, Hungary and the Sudan. Martin Luther King Jr did as well, he didn't get killed by the government, but he did by an American citizen. He was constantly aware of that danger - check out His book Strength to Love.

In respect to the Nigerian situation I did not rule out the use of the military but suggested it is important to involve people with expertise in dealing with such situations. And no I do not mean an "idiot judge sitting in an irrelevant court" I mean people skilled in working in the field with violent groups who have experience in reality how best to approach and place pressure on said groups. Going in with guns will not guarantee the safety of the girls or any future ones. Civil wars and internal conflicts within countries can be extremely complex, this group is obviously using the understanding of a particular sect in Islam which forbids the education of girls, to justify their actions.

In terms of what might have happened to us if Japan invaded or what might happen if China invades us in the future well truth be told we are in a privileged position, as we probably would had no show then and would have no show now despite support from other countries - due to our size and isolation. If what you say is true about China I might just have to focus on praying for the ever growing number of Chinese christians.

Hence we don't have sufficient military defence against larger countries and as such no real need to hide behind anyones wall. We are an open target. In saying we don't have a military culture, I mean not that we haven't supported military action - as we contributed greatly to WWII and supported the US in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, (we did refuse to let nuclear ships dock in our ports which is a bit of a sore point) - but that our identity/patriotism is not so closely tied to our defence force as a source of national pride as it perhaps is in the US.

Our police force has supported peacekeeping operations in the Solomon Islands and East Timor and PNG - and yes they made a difference, they trained local police recruits, and provided a safe environment for citizens while the countries re-built. I would be less ashamed if New Zealand had put more pressure earlier on for Indonesia to withdraw from East Timor.

The comments of Tim and Kurt I believe offer positive contributions to this topic and are better written than mine. Especially Tim's comment on the lack of references to biblical principles in the argument against non-violence such as:
"52Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword..." or "Love thine enemies"

Cheers Jean

carl jacobs said...

Kurt

Obviously the Vietnamese freedom fighters would have preferred non-violence to free their country from foreign interference, but American imperialism had other ideas. So the Vietnamese responded accordingly

Everything else you wrote faded away once I had read the above statement. The Vietnam War affected my family personally, deeply, viscerally, directly in a way it obviously did not affect you. Many of my formative memories are attached to that war and some are as fresh today as the were 40 plus years ago. It's a subject I should avoid but find impossible to avoid. My wife tells me not to watch or listen or read about it. I can't help myself. And it usually ends the same way - in white hot anger. The war will never be over for those of us who were scarred by it, and even now I must resist the desire to expand upon what I mean. Which is why your comment is so curious to me. Because must to my surprise, and against all expectations, I couldn't muster any rage on its behalf.

Twenty odd years ago I lived in Southern California and I frequently listened to Pacifica Radio for my sins. It was great theater - and window into the thinking of pretend revolutionaries who didn't have the stones to pull a trigger but greatly admired those who did. I was there during the Rodney King riots and I remember how the Pacifica radio personalities kept referring to it as "The Rebellion." It was such a ridiculous appellation - morally repugnant and ideologically driven at its root - that one was more shocked then offended. Like the calculated historical buffoonery of Noam Chomsky, it was simply impossible to take seriously. Looting and burning for fun and profit turned into some momentous event in the class struggle. And all with such earnestness. That is why I couldn't work up any rage over what you said. It was Pacifica Radio all over again. A theater of the absurd.

But perhaps I should see instead the calculations of Walter Duranty in your comment - he being Stalin's apologist for the Ukrainian famine. He saw, but he didn't see - preferring instead what he wished to be visible. And that is what you did with the NVA and their ilk. To call the Communists in SE Asia Freedom fighters - hell, you might just as well call the Sonder Kommandos Freedom fighters. But then, like Duranty, you see what you allow yourself to see and nothing more.

The most charitable statement I could make about what you said is that it is ignorant as dirt. Everything else would be consumed in Peter's comment filter. Truth can be a harsh mistress at times.

carl
Who deliberately waited a long time before making this comment

Jean said...

Hi Carl

I would refrain from using the word Freedom Fighters for the Viet Cong as well due to the methods used. There is no doubt it was a messy war with awful acts undertaken by both sides.

One does wonder though if the decision, prior to the war, of allowing Vietnam to hold a general election was followed through much of this could have been avoided. At the time it was the fear of communism spreading rather than any action taken by the Vietnamese that prompted the involvement of western countries.

I was priveleged to hear Kim Phuc. talking a few years ago (the South Vietnamese then child who was photographed after an accidental Napalm bombing). Some time after the attack which burnt the majority of her body she became a christian and now she travels world wide testfiying about the Gospel. Like many victims of that war she still suffers pain from her experience.

I pray for those in your family who experience likewise.

God Bless

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl and Kurt
You are now discussing a painful subject which I am not sure that I want to moderate as time is more than usually precious to me these particular days ... and the subject of the Vietnam war is not quite on topic! The following is a reply from Kurt. Kurt: I am not prepared to publish your last sentence. It is honestly expressed and I respect that but I am not convinced that it forwards conversation on the subject which keeps focus on the content of the discussion re the Vietnam war.

"I’m sorry, carl, that the Vietnam War was a tragedy for you and your family. It was a tragedy—an unnecessary tragedy –for many American families. And yes, carl, I was more fortunate. I had a student deferment and was privileged to attend an elite, Northeastern liberal arts college when others were coming back in body bags. I also vigorously opposed the Vietnam War to the best of my abilities from 1967 onwards. I have no apologies to make— to you, or to anyone else.

The Vietnam War affected millions of Vietnamese (and Cambodians, and Laotians and others) far more than it affected you and yours, carl. After all, THEY did most of the dying, THEY had most of the maimed and wounded, THEY AND THEIR CHILDREN were/are far more affected by Agent Orange, THEY had to rebuild THEIR COUNTRY from the damage that AMERICANS caused. Even today, forty years later, the Vietnamese have still not fully recovered from that war.

No one can claim “I didn’t know.” At the time of that conflict anyone who wanted to investigate the truth about Vietnam could have done so. There was plenty of public information about the 1954 Geneva Accords and the refusal of the American-backed puppet regime to abide by those agreements. Even President Eisenhower admitted at the time that the Vietnamese Communists would have won a fair and open election. So a free and fair election was never held because of AMERICAN interference and fear that the “wrong” side would win. That anti-democratic rejection of the Geneva Accords began the direct American meddling in Vietnam.

Knowledge about the reality of imperialist intervention in Vietnam was greatly enhanced with the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 by Dr. Daniel Ellsberg, a great American patriot. By then there was open rebellion in the US military by draftees who realized that they were simply cannon fodder for an unjust, illegal, and immoral imperialist war. Their resistance—aided by the massive anti-war movement at home—helped to bring the war to a swift conclusion in favor of Vietnamese independence and unification.

Young men had choices to make in that era, difficult choices. Some left the country rather than enter the military (Tim may know some of them who went to Canada). Others chose jail rather than participating in an unjust war. Still others, with their eyes wide open, volunteered to fight the Vietnamese freedom fighters. We may all be sad that young men and women marched off to their deaths— particularly the draftees—but the Vietnamese had every right to defend themselves and their country from American aggression.

The civil war in Vietnam was none of our damn business, carl. That the Vietnamese Stalinists were not my political ideal (remember, by 1970 I was a Trotskyist) does not negate their heroic role in the liberation of THEIR COUNTRY from foreign domination.

[]

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY
"

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I am not going to publish or redact a comment about 50% of which is commentary on a commenter.

If you disagree with a statement a commenter makes, or think a statement they make is inconsistent with another statement they have made, please give chapter and verse.

Andrei said...

You see it in Africa but remain almost oblivious to the slaves in the West, probably some even in New Zealand

Young women transported across international borders and sold into
sexual slavery by their thousands.

Some readers of your blog may have even availed themselves of them, who knows

Peter Carrell said...

Not quite sure about that last sentence, Andrei.

Unnecessary ending to an otherwise fair comment.