April, 2007

Her picture shines at the top of the page, unassuming, kind, gentle completely unthreatening. The article begins by explaining the horrible conditions of how this deserving young woman was forced to endure an undeserving living condition when she first came to the United States. She told of the loss of a child back in Mexico because she “didn’t have the money to save her.” She promised herself that would never happen again and that her three surviving children’s lives would be different from now on. With typical unwavering rugged individualism that is so admired in American culture, she came determined to make that change.

Unfortunately her plans didn’t work out. She hooked up with some ner-do-well who outfitted her in a sweatshop in some dingy unsafe factory setting in downtown Los Angeles. She was not allowed to go and come as she pleased. She was at the complete mercy of her handler. She earned pennies on the dollar to what others earned doing relatively the same work. A faceless coworker took pity on her and slipped here a phone number one day. This was the beginning of her way out. With the cunning of a natural human soul yearning to be free she eventually convinced her overseer to allow her to go to church. Instead, she went directly to a phone booth and called the still nameless, faceless hero. She was out, and she never looked back!

[[[[[[[[[Amy Klein’s original article is no longer available online. Please see the explanation attached to this entry.]]]]]]]]]]]]

This is a paraphrased account of Amy Klein’s “Slavery in the U.S.” published in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles in April, 2007. It was during Passover time when Jews remember how it was to live as slaves in Egypt. Ms. Klein’s portrait of modern day slavery was meant to bring the feeling home for Jews remembering the humbleness of their origins. If any one isn’t free, are any of us free? That is pretty heady stuff for Jews to assimilate, especially during Passover time.

The young woman showcased in the article was commended for her determination, strength of character, and the ability to endure against, what was apparently, all odds. Her name was Flor and Ms. Klein labeled this a story of modern slavery. Americans in general are particularly sensitive about slavery in their country since they fought a war over it 150 years ago with ramifications that still reverberate through American life. Flor made it out, but how many remain? That is the question that Ms. Klein wanted to convey to the Jewish community during the Passover holiday.

Those are good questions and they should be looked into but there are so many problems with the tenor and direction of this story I hardly know where to begin with this critique. Let me start by asking some questions. Is this really slavery as we have come to know the word? Flor was not taken from her home forcibly, she came of her own free will. In other places where slavery is a confirmed problem, like the Sudan for example, slavery is a brutal, vicious condition that cannot be denied. Iabolish.org writes that in the Sudan,

——–militiamen destroy villages and take their pay in human booty. Grown men are shot, but women and children are the marauders’ most prized reward. Forced labor without pay, severe beatings, acute hunger, forced religious and cultural conversion, rape, and ritual female genital mutilation are grim realities for the tens of thousands of children and young mothers now in bondage.———–

Yes, Flor was treated unfairly but her experience doesn’t reflect the inhumanity described above. She was forced to work long hours, and I’m sure her treatment was a crime but, again is this slavery? Slaves aren’t generally paid for their work but Ms. Klein indicated Flor received pay, even though she was cheated out of some of that money which only adds to the crime already committed. “Her trafficker wrote up her pay stub for only a few hours’ work and made Flor sign it.” Slaves in the Arab world , as they were historically here in the United States and elsewhere, are never paid for their work.

Were any black people interviewed for this story? I think the black community might have a problem calling this “slavery” the same way Jews might have a problem with the ease of how the word “Holocaust” is used in today’s lexicon. “The Israelis are committing a holocaust against our people (The Palestinians).” Yasser Arafat, 2003.

Ms. Klein seems to be selective in her condemnation of the problem. “Traffickers sell slaves to Europe, Israel and, increasingly, to North America.” It is entirely suspect that the Arab world is left out of this equation. I only used the Sudan as an example above, but a relatively easy Internet search will reveal that slavery in the Arab world is wide spread and strong. And it exists in its most barbaric forms. Almost every international human rights group lists slavery in the Arab world as a huge problem. I can’t believe that this was just some editorial oversight. It is noteworthy that only the West is mentioned as a proponent of modern day slavery. We here in the free world allow the worst form of human bondage imaginable. And, that according to Ms. Klein is embodied in Flor’s story. Outrageous!

But, Ms. Klein, in her mind set wanted to draw attention to the problem, but the solutions she gave naively will not solve it. She does not identify the real source. Instead she by passes it and blames the problem on Western values. If we want to eliminate “American slavery” as exposed by the Flors of the world then we must attack the problem at its source. That is the runaway, chaotic, anarchy that exists on the Southern open border of the United States. There are so many serious cultural and legal issues arising out of our de facto open border policy that Flor’s predicament is only the tip of the iceberg. The increase in crime across the board and our inability to combat it is seriously eroding the quality of life in this country. America, in certain microcosmic areas is beginning to show signs of disintegrating. Southern California is one of those examples that the rest of the country can look to if they want to understand exactly how serious this problem has become. One only has to study the siphoning off of revenue to other social services to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves to understand the desperate situation in education, health care, police and fire, road building and repair. All social, political and economic services are affected by this problem. Illegals coming from south of the border just like Flor cover a large portion of that population.

I wondered, as I was reading, why there was no mention of racism. Surely in an anti Western accusation such as this there has to be room for racism. It just wouldn’t be complete without it. Did Ms. Klein forget to include it? I fully expected to see it sometime before I finished the article. And, then I come across this, “Flor’s trafficker is a cousin of the mayor of her hometown.” One can only imagine the field day that Ms. Klein would have had if Flor’s trafficker would have been white. It would have increased the length of the piece at least three paragraphs.

Ms. Klein points to several Los Angeles politicians who are working hard to see that Flor and all others like her are to be set free. “On Jan. 11, (Councilman Eric) Garcetti, Councilman Tony Cardenas and LAPD Chief William Bratton gathered with other officials to announce the declaration of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.” What a pompous gathering that must have been. Those three gentlemen are part of Ms Klein’s America that says we do not need to be concerned about illegal immigration. They support special order no. 40 which forbids police from investigating a criminal’s immigration status. They support legislation which promotes and continues to strengthen an already out of control sanctuary policy for L.A. They refuse to do anything about the problem usually citing it as federal government responsibility. That’s the George Bush government that claims “they only do the jobs that Americans won’t do.” I wrote to all three cited in the article asking for clarification and none would respond to my query. I don’t know if they are just plain cowards or they actually share some hidden delight in watching American sovereignty disintegrate with each passing year.

There was more than one crime committed in this story. First, and foremost, the innocent young woman named Flor should have never gone through this kind of treatment. The people involved on both sides of the border should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Second, and maybe the more insidious of the two, is the continuing denial of the political left and the industrious right in this country that refuses to acknowledge where these kinds of problems originate and their hijacking of the political process to keep them hidden.

This article has less to do with slavery than it does an unwilling population to have the courage to stand up and say that is enough. It certainly holds no positive reflection for Jews at Passover. We should not be proud as Klein’s article is meant to make us feel, we should be ashamed that we have allowed this to happen. We should be slightly fearful that it is getting worse, not better. Amy Klein’s article has a maligning seditious ring to it. It confirms a continuing slide into chaos and cultural disorder. Remove the possibility of open southern borders and you will clear up at least 95% of this problem almost immediately.

Ms. Klein could have chosen to write about the real horrors of slavery in the Islamic world, the brutal capture of human beings treated no better than animals, the death and the stench of oppression. That would have been a real Passover message. All would have benefited from such an article. Instead she chose to write something that would satisfy her left wing thinking, filled with progressive psychobabble with politically correct distortions and revised truths. Only a few misguided people who have lost their sense of freedom somewhere along the way, can read Ms. Klein’s article and shake their heads yes and say to themselves, “now I can have meaning to my Passover Seder.”

Photo at top courtesy of ftjc.org

Come to my website for more on Jewish issues, the Middle East, Modern Jewish history and other stories, reviews, and op eds at hartnation.com

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