“Big strong boys for farm work,” says the auctioneer of the young black men on the block. They go for approximately $400 a piece — a bargain. This isn’t the “legacy of slavery,” but the real thing, occurring here, now, today, on the African continent in Libya.
After a video of such a slave market surfaced, CNN sent a team to the country to investigate the matter — and confirmed the video’s authenticity. According to CNN:
Carrying concealed cameras into a property outside the capital of Tripoli last month, we witness a dozen people go “under the hammer” in the space of six or seven minutes.
“Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a big strong man, he'll dig,” the salesman, dressed in camouflage gear, says. “What am I bid, what am I bid?”
Buyers raise their hands as the price rises, “500, 550, 600, 650 ...” Within minutes it is all over and the men, utterly resigned to their fate, are being handed over to their new “masters.”
After the auction, we met two of the men who had been sold. They were so traumatized by what they'd been through that they could not speak, and so scared that they were suspicious of everyone they met.
These are just a handful of the tens of thousands of African migrants who stream across Libya’s border every year, lured by the prospect of a better life in Europe. But having “sold everything they own to finance the journey through Libya to the coast and the gateway to the Mediterranean,” as CNN informs, they sometimes find something else: bondage (video below).
This footage has drawn worldwide attention, prompting protests, such as a November 18 gathering of mostly young black people in front of the Libyan Embassy in central Paris, France. Unfortunately, slavery not only is nothing new — it’s also nothing that ever ended.
While Europeans and Americans led the world in abolishing slavery, it continued to be legal beyond the West for more than a century; the last country to abolish it was Mauritania, in 1981, and that nation didn’t make it a crime until 2007. Yet abolishment isn’t synonymous with elimination.
In fact, the Washington Post reported in 2013 that almost 30 million people worldwide are slaves. As the paper wrote, “This is not some softened, by-modern-standards definition of slavery. These 30 million people are living as forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers, child brides in forced marriages and, in all ways that matter, as pieces of property, chattel in the servitude of absolute ownership. [The organization] Walk Free investigated 162 countries and found slaves in every single one. But the practice is far worse in some countries than others.”
And the worst of all is the Islamic African nation of Mauritania; the Atlantic called it the “Country Where Slavery Is Still Normal” and claims that “an estimated half million Mauritanians [are] enslaved, about 20 percent of the population.”
While illegal, “slavery” (by some definition) can be found everywhere, it’s no surprise that it’s most prevalent and tolerated — if not at times unofficially sanctioned — in Islamic nations such as Mauritania and the country under the microscope here, Libya. And it’s not just ISIS and anti-jihad crusaders such as Robert Spencer who claim Islam condones slavery.
Just consider what Thomas Jefferson was told by the Ambassador of Tripoli (Libya), Sidi Haji Abdrahaman, when he asked why the ambassador’s Barbary Pirates were making war on nations (e.g., the United States) that had done them no injury. As Jefferson wrote in 1786:
The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners….”
And they certainly did “make slaves.” As an example, for hundreds of years North African Muslims would capture young European and African boys, castrate them, and sell them into bondage.
Of course, many will debate what the Islamic canon (Koran, Sira and Hadith) truly dictate, about their correct interpretation. But something is not debatable.
Virtues and vices are caught more than they’re taught; actions speak louder than words, which is why the example we set for children trumps what we merely tell them. And just as Christians will ask “What would Jesus do?” using Him as the perfect role model, Muslims consider Mohammed “the Perfect Man.”
But unlike Jesus, Mohammed (among other differences) owned and traded in slaves.
This conception of perfection has its effect, too. Just ponder what Georgetown University Islamic studies professor Jonathan Brown said to a critic at a lecture earlier this year, while defending slavery and making headlines: “How can you say [slavery is wrong], if you’re Muslim? The Prophet of God had slaves. He had slaves. There’s no denying that. Was he — are you more morally mature than the Prophet of God? No you’re not.”
Based on what I’ve written, it may seem that I’m absolving the (post-Christian) West from all responsibility for extant slavery. Actually, though, if modern Westerners didn’t have heads softer than their hearts and made clear that African migrants would not be allowed into the West illegally, the carrot would be gone. The incentive currently luring Africans across the desert and into Libya would have been eliminated, and the West and, likely, the migrants themselves, would be safer. Instead, the North African slave trade is booming because effete Westerners are enslaved by misguided passions, immigrationism and multiculturalism not least among them.
Photo of migrant detention center in Lybia: Screen-grab from CNN video