[Photo above: Black Sudanese slave women rest as they wait to be redeemed by aid workers from Christian Solidarity International after years of enslavement by Arab masters in the north — January 8, 2011, American Anti-Slavery Group.]
Twenty-three years ago yesterday, in 1997, Dr. Charles Jacobs, a frequent FrontPageMag contributor and president of the pro-Israel educational non-profit Americans for Peace and Tolerance, published a biting op-ed in The Boston Globe: “Where are the liberals?”
At the time, Dr. Jacobs, a human rights campaigner and Jewish activist, was the president and research director of the American Anti-Slavery Group, an organization at the forefront of the war against modern-day black slavery in Africa.
By 1997, thanks to his relentless activism and that of the heroic black journalist Sam Cotton (may his memory be a blessing), the world was slowly coming to grips with a vile fact: that Arabs and Muslims own black men, women, and children as chattel property in Mauritania and Sudan — today. Dr. Jacobs himself had come to this news inadvertently. One day in 1990 he picked up a copy of The Economist on a flight home, and flipped to page 42 where he found a one-page editorial entitled “Slavery: By any other name.” What he read shook him to his core: “In Sudan chattel slavery is spreading fast, as a consequence of the civil war between the black Christian and pagan southerners and the Arab, Muslim north.… In February 1988 a [black] child could be bought for $90; so many slaves are available [two years later] that the price has now fallen to $15.” A child cheaper than a pizza; Jacobs took the magazine home with him and was never the same.
The problem, however, was that all of the activist and media elements which one would think would jump to free modern-day black slaves, including the formidable anti-apartheid coalition of the 1980s, simply weren’t there. Even worse, organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch — the people who had produced the reports of slavery which originally alerted Dr. Jacobs and others to its horrors — simply refused to be of much help.
Furthermore, so-called black “leaders” like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, world-famous figures with massive community and media clout, either directly rebuffed efforts to help tell the world, or backed off at the behest of actively hostile parties such as Louis Farrakhan (who decided to act out of character and blame the Jews).
Though a few brave and decent people in the mainstream media, such as at Dateline NBC and even The New York Times, did do their part in broadcasting the images and accounts of slavery, such instances of righteousness were few and far between — and today, are just about extinct.
What, then, astounded Dr. Jacobs and his allies was that it was conservatives and evangelical Christians who actually took up the fight. While liberals waffled and worried about offending Arabs or “dividing” the black community (against Farrakhan, Jackson, and Sharpton), conservatives stood up. For instance, Pat Robertson’s 700 Club and CBN News became a forceful mouthpiece for the abolitionist movement. In the spring of 1997, they were likely the first national television show to broadcast footage of angels like Dr. John Eibner and Baroness Caroline Cox of Christian Solidarity International directly buying back Sudanese slaves’ freedom. In fact, their segment was specifically shaped to refute Farrakhan’s disgusting public denial of slavery from a year earlier — Robertson himself trashed Farrakhan as “an absolute charlatan.”
Jacobs also approached feminists, telling them that female slaves, forcibly converted to Islam and often vaginally mutilated in the case of Sudan, are mostly concubines whose bonded wombs their Arab captors use as a sadistic weapon of cultural, demographic, and racial jihād. Nobody agreed to help except Barbara Ledeen of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum, who in 1996 helped organize a four-hour hearing on slavery before members of Congress at which Jacobs, Cotton, Cox, and other abolitionists testified.
That is what led Dr. Jacobs to ask, “Where are the liberals?”
The answer is staring us in the face today. Around that time, we now know, the crackpot cultural Marxist idea that “white people” can’t criticize evil committed by non-Westerners was becoming en vogue. Since white people have committed grievous violations of non-white people’s human rights in the past, all they have the right to do now is crusade to correct Western sins, and leave those non-Westerners commit today, no matter how much worse they may be, alone. For white “human rights” activists who’ve snookered themselves into feeling guilty about the “unearned” wealth on which they live, this serves as their masochistic expiation. When given the choice between virtue-signaling with a black square as their profile pictures on Instagram and freeing real-life black slaves, we know which one liberals will choose.
Back then, Jacobs called this the “human rights complex.” Today, it’s called “intersectionality,” where Jews are now at or near the top of the rich, white “oppressor” cabal, and neither have the right to their own state, nor to tell Black Lives Matter or Farrakhan that they’re racist, anti-Semitic hypocrites who care nothing about addressing the deep-seated, heart-wrenching problems in the black community — or about black slaves owned and brutalized by non-white masters.
This was why, five years after this op-ed, Jacobs published another in the Globe: “Why Israel, and not Sudan, is singled out.” Israel accidentally kills a few civilians while targeting terrorists — Human Rights Watch cries about “war crimes.” But about Sudanese Arabs who murder and enslave tens of the thousands of black African Christians — the “human rights community” just whispers, if that.
This is even more egregious when we see most of the left’s characteristic inaction now that we know there is also Islamic slavery in Algeria, Libya, and Nigeria. They’d rather applaud statues of George Washington and General Grant being torn down by mobs of spoiled, ignorant children.
It is always a sad day when a warning from the past comes true, and remains unheeded.
Ben Poser is the research director of the American Anti-Slavery Group.