Cambodia, Slavery, and Not Buying People

Slavery in Cambodia – an enormous problem existing at all levels – has been receiving increased attention: here’s a good article in the Phnom Penh Post, and here’s an article from CNN. Gratefully, the new attention is not solely focused on the sexual slave trade. That trade needs lots of attention and needs to be eliminated, but an exclusive focus on that simply normalizes the slavery of men, who are also widely trafficked.  I’m grateful that these ‘separate’ problems are increasingly being seen as linked.

Unfortunately, those who continue to profit from slavery – slavers and their customers – continue to unwittingly conspire together. In a recent raid on a brothel, journalist and professional op-ed writer Nicholas Kristof live-tweeted the event. I’ve discussed Kristoff on this blog before: I consider him a human trafficker whose ‘good intentions’ have led him not only to purchase two human beings (he made sure to get a receipt so he could be reimbursed by the New York Times newspaper), but to create an image of himself as a ‘saint’ as a result.  It’s a disturbing synergy, where Kristoff performs the role of a John, allows the slaver to profit financially from the transaction, and where Kristof then is also allowed to profit from the transaction. Thankfully, journalists are now starting to note the self-serving sanctimony, and question its efficiency, including good articles at, “Nick Kristof To The Rescue!

If you are interested in eliminating slavery in the world today – and you should be – I suggest you join a local abolitionst movement, such as Not for Sale.  I am a local and founding member of a group called Historians Against Slavery, an open group to academics and others who wish to more intentionally attack slavery and its causes. But please – don’t buy people, and don’t encourage those who do.

Journalist Faine Greenwood in Cambodia wrote on Kristof’s recent live-tweeting of the raid, and took a moderate, but critical, position. She also graciously linked to my brief previous discussion of the topic. I encourage you to read it, here:


SOUNDING on Cambodia, July 2, 2010

So many things have been going on since I took an extended vacation from blogging, but here are some of the Cambodian stories I’ve been following and wondering about:


Still More on Haiti

I’ve avoided mentioning Pat Robertson’s energetic kick to his own tonsils here, for the same reasons I avoided mentioning Brit Hume’s awesome attempt to evangelize Tiger Woods – it’s obvious, and the world doesn’t need more commentary on such obvious bone-headed racism and arrogance. Still, found this via anthropophagus, and thought it represented my own thoughts on the matter rather nicely, to wit:

The racism implicit in Robertson and those like him both secular and New Age is obvious. If a nation of black slaves threw off the shackles of imperialism and slavery, they did so only by a pact with the devil. They are a nation of cursed, wretched people who are worthy of only a sort of detached, preaching pity.

via The Haiti Disaster and Superstition – Anarkismo.

And, if that weren’t enough, go read Tenured Radical‘s response to the way this is being covered in the MSM:

Why do even good news reports allow US government officials talk unchallenged about the grossly underdeveloped economy in Haiti, which amplifies disasters like the recent earthquake because of substandard housing and thin state resources that snap when taxed, as if it has nothing to do with centuries of European and American colonialism? In this story Timothy Carney, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti from 1998-1999, speaks of the Duvalier regimes as emblematic of Haitian governments who “bled their people dry.” Well yes, but weren’t the Duvaliers and others virtually in the formal employ of Cold War-era United States foreign aid programs while they did that? And didn’t the United States think that an oligarchical regime that kept its people brutally policed was a good defense against Communism? And didn’t the the United States keep Haiti in its thrall by foisting a crushing load of international debt on the country that was banked by its rulers in Geneva as the country’s infrastructure collapsed?