George Washington, charities, sweatshops, bargains, and why we’re slave owners, too.

I am so tired of the argument used to discredit George Washington. I’m sick to distraction of people trying to nullify the Constitution because women didn’t have rights and some of our founders owned slaves. It’s like no one else in the known world ever had slaves or devalued women.

I’ve also had it with people whose ancestors may or may not have been slaves in the southern United States. The belief that somehow those of European heritage owe them something. News flash—white people have been slaves, too. Jews were slaves to the Egyptians for centuries, but believe it or not, the Christians were selling the pagans to the north as slaves to the middle east. There’s more, if you’re willing to look into it. Just remember that the only things that don’t seem to change are death, taxes and slavery.

To paraphrase information I found at The early Abbasids had markets in each city. You could buy all sorts of things from China, the islands of the Indian Ocean, Africa, and Scandinavia. On the docket were black slaves from Africa and white slaves from Scandinavia. Hell—you can’t get much whiter than Scandinavian. I wonder what Scandinavian’s did for sun block that close to the equator? I suppose the women didn’t get out of bed much and the men—well—after you’re turned into a Eunuch, death by sunstroke was probably preferable anyhow.

From, “The Islamic World was also a main factor in Medieval European slavery.” White slaves were traded between the 8th and 16th-17th centuries, from the time the Vikings sold Christians to North Africa, to when Christians sold Scandinavians to North Africa and then during the time that Christians were fighting over who God loves best (otherwise known as the wars between Protestants and Catholics).

Is that clear enough?

Here’s another tidbit for people who want to dwell on the terrible slave owners of the southern US of A: During the first part of the 19th century, around 75% of all people IN THE ENTIRE WORLD were slaves or serfs (a condition which could be worse than being a slave). Shall we go find the 25% who weren’t bought, sold or otherwise owned and force them to pay restitution to all their descendents? So, will those of you who continue to complain your ancestors were slaves please stop to see how ridiculous that is—considering the fact that everyone’s ancestor had a family member who was a slave at one time or another.

Oddly, if you were Islamic and your slaves decided to convert, you had to free them. It probably wasn’t any different for a woman as freed or slave in the middle east than it is today, but that’s beside the point. A slave could also win freedom by going into the military and living through the experience.

Are you beginning to get the picture now? Good, because next I’m going to tell you how you and I continue to keep the slave trade going. If you are a legal US resident of any race, color or creed stop vilifying our forefathers and mothers who owned slaves in the southern states and look in the mirror for the latest slave owner: You. Stop trying to convince yourself that you’re not.

All right—so you’re not ready to take ownership…not just yet. Think in terms of sponsoring a child. You see the dirty, hungry urchin look at you with innocent eyes on the TV. This child can be fed for only $10 a month. The food is okay and serves the purpose of keeping the kid alive, but look at those eyes–how can you say no? You just have to support him or her. But that’s not enough for the greedy bastards who asked for the money in the first place. They start sending you letters with creative things on the envelope like “Thank you” or they make it look like there’s a check inside, or some other means by which you open it to find the face of a child and a plea for another $10, 20, 30 or more. Disgusted, you stop giving anything at all, and trees die in droves as these people send letters, calendars and more address labels than you’ll ever need in a lifetime. You call, you write. Nothing stops the deluge. Why? Because it might not work on you, but there are plenty of other people who can be worn down if you can’t.

Are you starting to see the connection? No? Then let’s think in terms of clothing. You’re surfing the web. There’s an ad for a website that offers free shipping and 10% off your first order. You check it out and find pants and a shirt for only $9.99 each—with free shipping and 10% off. You can’t even buy the material to make it for that price. How can you say no? You just HAVE to use your credit card and pay the $19.98. You get the clothing. It’s okay and it works for what you want it to do, so what the hell. Then you get an email saying that if you open a credit card with them, you can get all sorts of discounts and free shipping—and there’s a clearance area where you can save even more. Before you know it, your entire wardrobe (mostly varying shades of purple), your home décor, and your doggie accessories consist of clearance items that cost you $9.99 or less.

Where, you may ask, do these cheap items come from? There’s a webpage called Feel free to explore it. Among other things you’ll discover: Did you know that in 1995, slave labor was found in Los Angeles? “…80 Thai immigrants were forced to sew brand-name clothes in a compound behind razor wire and armed guards. The workers earned $2 per hour for making clothing that was later sold at major stores. In Honduras, girls as young as 13 were found sewing clothing for TV talk-show host Kathie Lee Gifford’s apparel line sold at Wal-Mart. The girls worked from 7:30am to 9:00pm, Monday through Friday, and because of forced overtime to meet rush orders, the children were not permitted to attend night school, where from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm they could have studied to complete their grammar school educations.”

Not that most people working in this economy have jobs that provide employees… “with benefits, acceptable working conditions, or a living wage.” But there tends to be a difference in the number of hours worked as well as other things. In this country, people who work less than full time don’t have to be paid benefits. However, slave laborers work more than 60 hours a week and sometimes receive only pennies a day. The conditions are unsafe, no one cares if you’re sick—you’ll work anyway dammit, and if you die, so what? There are a whole lot of other desperate people dying to take your place.

In a way, you are sponsoring a child (slave) when you buy stuff that’s unrealistically cheap. Children make less money and complain less—possibly because they’re easier to beat. They grow up without an education working 60 hours a day. In some places, the predominantly female slave/work force might be allowed to have children who can take their parents places when they’re worked to death.

If it’s made in the Philippines, Indonesia or Sri Lanka, it’s almost a guarantee that it’s made with slave labor. But the problem isn’t confined to Asia. Slave labor includes illegal aliens in the US still working in some large cities. As mentioned in the paragraph above, women seem to be the most commonly bought and sold (what a not surprise), and in many places they’re forced to take birth control shots so that companies aren’t burdened with maternity leave. If they get pregnant, they’re fired. So, ladies, how can we continue to call ourselves feminists or humanists if we’re actively denying these inalienable rights to women outside our own country?

Companies that sell the items made this way range from discount mass merchandisers to some high-end stores. And if you wear shoes not guaranteed to be made by people making a reasonable living? Congratulations, you’ve sponsored a slave. And…did you stop to think that perhaps the PARENTS of the child you were sponsoring for $10 a month—advertised by the charity that keeps killing trees to deluge you with pleas for more money–worked in the sweatshop that created the goods that now grace your home?

Why, you may ask, does a company feel compelled to pay people so little? All you have to do is look in your mailbox, on the TV, and on sponsored websites for part of the answer. The less people are paid to make the clothing, the more catalogues, mass mailing blitzes and website ads they can deluge you with. Did I mention that upper administration in companies can also make more money by paying workers less? Then again, did I have to?

Back to those who created the US of A. George Washington lost his son, several years of his life, many soldiers, and endured great hardship to help bring about the chance for the United States to live free of the taxation as well as unlawful search and seizure imposed by England. Our founders (fathers and mothers) knew that life would never be safe. They sacrificed so that we could have a blueprint for building a successful nation. How do we repay their efforts? Instead of being vigilant, we’ve become slaves to debt, slaves to more taxes than England ever thought about levying, slaves to “things” we want but don’t need, and our minds have become slaves to the will of those who provide us with our nightly TV fix.

In conclusion:
£ You might not have the responsibility for a slave living in your backyard, but to refuse to take responsibility for her, or his, creation is cowardly at best and delusional at worst. For all intents and purposes, you’re a slave owner. Get over it.
£ Every time you buy a product from a sweatshop, you’ve stolen a child’s education and guaranteed that women’s, or human, rights will never be taken seriously in that area of the world. If altruism isn’t convincing enough, think about it this way: You and I created the problem. You and I are perpetuating the problem. These people don’t like us. When there are more of them in the world than us, what do you think is going to happen?
£ In our quest to scramble for “more,” in our desire to chase the illusion of safety, we do so on the backs of the desperate and we endure an ever increasing array of laws that decrease our rights to free speech, and to defend ourselves against becoming the next sweatshop residents.