Dover Bitch

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

No excuses

(Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

Yesterday was Juneteenth, a time to reflect on Civil Rights and progress in America. As I was admonished in comments here for not making clearer, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in America. But sub-human conditions for workers still exist, to the everlasting shame of the Congress that has allowed it to continue on American soil.

It's easy sometimes to feel helpless when confronted by crimes against humanity in distant locations, where seemingly little can be done. It is inexcusable for nothing to be done when the outrages occur within the legal jurisdiction of our own representative government.

I'm writing about the exploitation that is hidden away in the Marianas Islands. I'm referring to the women who are tricked into thinking they are buying a chance to work in America, only to learn that they are essentially imprisoned in a filthy den, forced to work for nothing, forced into prostitution, forced to have abortions, and finally shipped back to their homelands, broken and penniless. I'm writing about a man who couldn't "spotlight" a blog post; he lit himself on fire to call attention to the desperation that has been largely ignored.

I know of nobody on the blog-o-sphere who has devoted more energy to this horrible situation than dengre at Daily Kos. I urge you to read dengre's diary detailing how Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff made sure Congress would do nothing but turn a blind eye to these atrocities. You can read dengre's transcripts of the Senate testimony of abused women, some of which fell on deaf ears a decade ago.

You can also see a (somewhat old) video here that shows the working conditions out there.

Again, this is on U.S. soil. Now that the Democrats control Congress, there is no reason this ugliness should remain in the shadows. There is no excuse for allowing this exploitation to continue.

Last week, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) introduced "a bill to implement further the Act approving the Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America, and for other purposes." It remains to be seen what the bill hopes to accomplish, or what it will look like in its final form. Hearings may begin next month.

There is no doubt what the bill ought to do. Slavery is wrong. Rape is wrong. That may be hard for Tom DeLay to comprehend while he smiles to allow people to see Jesus through his mugshot. But it should be obvious to just about everybody else. Please put pressure on Congress to do the right thing.

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