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Iowa’s White Privilege Has a Billion Dollar Price Tag

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 17/08/2020 - 11:44pm in

As Iowans we are privileged in so many ways – with our land, our people and our history, but we should be willing to show some humility in recognizing how these privileges came to be. How different would life be today if freedmen and women had been allowed to take their rightful place as land owning, independent farm families – like so many of our ancestors here in Iowa? Continue reading

The post Iowa’s White Privilege Has a Billion Dollar Price Tag appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

‘Financial Times’ Review of Book on Real, Modern Slavery

This is another old clipping I’ve kept in my scrapbooks from the Financial Times, from May 29/30th 1999. It’s a review by their columnist, Ben Rogers, ‘Forced into human bondage’, of Kevin Bales’ Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global  Economy. This is another book that the former Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol had in its library. It’s an excellent book, but obviously very, very grim reading in its truly harrowing accounts of the brutality meted out to real, enslaved people across the world. I’m posting the review here because, while Britain and America are re-evaluating the legacy of slavery following the Black Lives Matter protests, real slavery and its horrors still exist around the world and I am afraid that this is being overshadowed by the debates over historic European slavery.

Rogers begins his review with the subtitled ‘Slavery today may be illegal, but it is still rife’. The review then goes on

It is tempting to think of slavery as a thing of the past. Its legacy lives on, disfiguring relations between Black and Whites everywhere, but surely the practice itself has gone?

This sober, well-researched, pioneering study shows that this, alas, is far from the case. Bales, an American social scientist who teaches in London at the Roehampton Institute, is careful to distinguish slavery from other forms of exploitation: the Pakistani child labourer, the Burmese agricultural worker, although paid a subsistence wage, are not necessarily slaves. Nevertheless, he argues that there are still, on a conservative estimate, perhaps 27m slaves in the world today – a population greater than that of Canada.

Most are located in the Indian subcontinent where they work as bonded labourers, but they exist in almost every country in the world. Paris harbours as many as 3,000 household slaves, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Arab states many more. In the Dominican Republic, enslaved Haitians harvest the sugar that we eat. In Brazil, child prostitutes are forced to service the miners of the metals we use.

Of course, modern slavery is different from the old variety practised in ancient Athens or the American South. But in certain respects, Bales persuasively argues, the new variety is worse. In the traditional version, slave holders owned their slaves, who were almost always of a different race or religion from their masters; slaves were relatively expensive “capital” goods and usually kept up for life. Nowadays legal ownership is outlawed in every country of the world (Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, after all, states that “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude”), so modern slavery is disguised and “ownership” is replaced by manipulative debt bondage or fictive long-term “contracts”. Modern slaves tend to be taken from the same ethnic group as their holders and, because they are cheap, they are often used for only months or a few years before being discarded. Another difference is the size of the profit slaves produce. Agricultural bonded labourers in India generate not 5 per cent, as did slaves in the American South, but over 50 per cent profit per year for the slave holder; a Thai brothel owner can make 800 per cent on a new teenage girl.

To illustrate the nature of the new slavery, Bales has travelled around the world to investigate five cases in detail (often at some risk to himself): that of an enslaved prostitute in Ubon Ratchitani, Thailand; a water carrier in Mauritania; charcoal burners in the camps in Matto Grosso do Sul, Brazil; brickmakers in the Punjab, Pakistan; and bonded agricultural labourers in Uttar Pradesh, India.

The cases varied in significant ways. Ironically the one that most resembles old-style slavery – that of the water carrier from Mauritania – proves perhaps to be the least vicious. Slavery in Mauritania represents a lightly disguised continuation of a centuries-old practice; there slaves are kept for life and many slave families have been working for the same masters for generations. The cruellest example, by contrast, is provided by “Siri” the Thai prostitute, who was sold into slavery by her parents aged 14. Her debts to her owners are manipulate to ensure that she will continue to work until she is too tired or ill to be profitable.

Despite the differences, however, two continuities run through all the cases Bales so  graphically describes. In every case the worker is tricked or forced into bondage; in every case he or she is provided with the barest means of subsistence and sometimes not even that. In the charcoal camps of Brazil the men are often denied medication and left to die – on the principle that it is cheaper to acquire a new worker than repair an old one.

The western world has been slow to recognise the problem of the new slavery – in part because it is carefully disguised. The slave holders hide it from their government, governments hide it from the international community. The result is that, unlike, say, torture or censorship, slavery has yet to become a major human rights issue. The main international organisation dedicated to the abolition of slavery, Anti-Slavery International, has only 6,000 members. And without grass roots pressure, the World Bank, IMF and national governments are not inclined to show much concern.

“What country,” as Bales asks, “has been sanctioned by the UN for slavery? Where are the UN inspection teams charged with searching out slave labour? Who speaks for the slaves in the International Court of Justice? Governments and business are more likely to suffer international penalties today for counterfeiting a Michael Jackson CD than for using slaves.”

Modern slaves face the same conditions as the poor of the third world – they are the victims of industrialisation, population explosion and government corruption. Where labour is abundant, wages low, bribery rife, workers often face a stark choice between enslavement and starvation. Slavery, however, calls for its own particular solutions. Bales shows how strict enforcement of existing laws combined with programmes aimed at enabling slaves to set up on their own, have had some effect in diminishing debt bondage in northern India – although, as he reminds us, unless steps are taken slavery is set to grow.

Incredibly, Bales’ study is about the first to explore slavery in its modern international guise. The picture it offers remains patchy, given the limited resources at Bales’ disposal. He makes much of the west’s role in aiding and abetting slavery, yet most of the cases he studies belongs to local economies. This remains, however, a convincing and moving book. One can only hope that it will draw some attention to the terrible phenomenon it describes.

Although this was written 21 years ago, I’ve no doubt that it’s still acutely relevant and the situation has got worse. Since then there have been a series of scandals involving the enslavement of migrant workers in Britain and eastern European women trafficked into sex slavery. And, as the book Falling Off the Edge, shows very clearly, poverty around the world and the consequent exploitation of the poor has got much worse due to neoliberalism and globalisation. One of the programmes due to be shown on the Beeb – but I can’t remember whether it’s on TV or radio – is an examination of global terrorism. One of the groups looked at are Maoist terrorists in India. They’re a horrifically violent outfit, but they’re the result, according to Falling Off the Edge, of the horrific poverty and exploitation foisted upon the agricultural workers of central India.

And then there’s the increasing poverty and mounting debts of the British poor, thanks to Thatcherite welfare cuts, wage freezes and the replacement of loans for welfare payments and services. I wonder how long before this morphs into something very much like debt bondage over here.

Hurrah! Katie Hopkins Evicted from Twitter

Earlier this week anti-racism activists finally succeeded in having hatey Katie Hopkins banned from Twitter. Hopkins started her notorious career as one of the contestants in the British version of The Apprentice. She was one of the runners-up, but her noxious right-wing beliefs nevertheless got her taken on as a columnist for the Scum and the Heil. She lost these thanks to her very outspoken racism.

In this clip from Novara Media’s Tysky Sour, Michael Walker and Aaron Bastani discuss her noxious career. This included such lows as her infamous description of immigrants and asylum seekers as ‘cockroaches’ for whom she had absolutely no love. This made that last sentiment very clear in a Tweet aimed at Philip Schofield after the sinking of a migrant ship and its human cargo in the Med. The newspapers covered this with a picture of a grieving father, who had stopped at Turkey, looking at the body of his infant son, which had just been washed up on the beach. Hopkins went on to say that illegal immigrants should be gunned down if they tried to cross into Britain. But perhaps the nadir came in a Tweet she made after the Manchester bombing in which she called for a ‘final solution’. This was too much even for whatever paper was then employing her, and she was given the heave-ho. But she was still free to spew her hate on Twitter. And now she’s lost even that.

Bastani and Walker agree that her banning is an open and shut case. She deserved it. But they also point out that the people who enabled her by giving her platforms and newspaper columns are still around. Stig Abell was the editor of the Scum who took her on. He hasn’t been damaged, and is now at the Times, where he’s pretending to be the voice of moderation. Well, I’ve absolutely no respect for the Times and its sister paper, the Sunday Times, because of their repeated smears and libels against the left, and particularly of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, including Mike. While they use a much more extensive vocabulary and are aimed at a far better educated readership than the Scum, those two rags are still utter, disgraceful trash. The time’s long past when all of the mendacious Tory press should have been cleaned out of his liars, propagandists and smear merchants.

I’ve no doubt that there are complaints against Hopkin’s ban as well as accusations of censorship, but I don’t think her defenders really have a case. There have been cases like Hopkins’ before, in which a right-winger with very racist or intolerant views has been banned from a social media platform like Twitter or YouTube. Their supporters have always tried to defend them on the grounds of free speech. But in America, this clause of the Constitution only applies to the government. They can’t imprison or persecute citizens for expressing their beliefs. But it doesn’t apply to private corporations.

Twitter is a private company. According to Conservatives and Libertarians, private industry should be left to do whatever it likes within reason in the pursuit of profit. Government should respect the rule of laissez faire economics and not interfere. But Twitter is a private company, and so it can, by the same reasoning, decide who or what it wants on its platform. And if it decides that hatey Katie has violated its terms and conditions, it has every right to throw her off. Also, Britain and other European countries don’t quite have free speech. A wide variety of opinions are permitted, but nevertheless it is an offence under British law to incite racial hatred. I’m not sure if someone has ever tried to prosecute her under the terms of the act, but she has certainly sailed close to the wind.

Hopkins has moved to Parler, which according to Zelo Street is rapidly becoming a cesspool full of racists like her and other extreme right-wingers, like the vile Toby Young. This is bad news for Hopkins as it means that she will probably never recover her popularity or audience. One of her fellows down there is Milo Yiannopolis, formerly of Breitbart. Yiannopolis is gay, half-Jewish and married to a Black man. But he’s another extreme right-wing propagandist, who made his name with attacks on ethnic minorities and feminism. All was going well for him. He had a speaking tour of American universities and a book deal with Simon & Schuster’s right-wing imprint. Then he appeared on the Joe Rogan Show and made comments suggesting he approved of paedophilia. At this point, it all vanished, including Yiannopolis’ invitation to CPAC or some other Conservative event. Yiannopolis tearfully retracted his comments, apologised and said that he now recognised that he also was a victim of child abuse. But it was to no avail. He was also turfed off Twitter, and has no joined in his fellow rightists in Parler.

Yiannopolis was also a massive grifter. He was also begging for money. One of his money-making schemes was appealing for donations for a bursary he was setting up so young White men could afford to go to college. He received plenty of money, but it all went straight into Yiannopolis’ own bank account. There was no bursary, and he never paid any aspiring underprivileged White male student anything. When last I took notice of him, Yiannopolis was claiming that he debts of £4 million. His chances of paying this off are slim. According to Zelo Street, his messages on Parler have included whinges that he now only has 1001 followers, who never go to anything he does, or buy anything from him. Well hard cheese. If only the same thing happened to others like him, who preached race hate and exploited the gullible. Now Hopkins is in the same boat, and likely to have the same difficulty recovering anything like her former success.

The only pity is that Abell and the rest of the ‘respectable’ Tory horrors that facilitated her haven’t also suffered the same treatment.

See also: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/06/parler-vous-racist-sewer.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/06/so-farewell-then-katie-hopkins.html