Tag Archive: slavery

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Trenton

It’s probably not on your calendar, but today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. In Trenton, the day was observed with a rally in front of the State House, and a program which featured officials from several different agencies working to combat this scourge.

Crime is not a partisan event, and supporters of stronger measures come from all sides of the political spectrum. At the rally speakers ranged from Progressives like Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to Tea Party sympathizers like Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose. Congressman Chris Smith’s appearance reminded us that it’s not just a state, but a federal issue. And big events like the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey tend to attract the perpetrators of these crimes.

Human trafficking, while it has a negative connotation, does not adequately describe the problem. In reality, it’s slavery. Slavery that is just as disgusting as the slavery that was supposed to have ended 150 years ago with the Emancipation Proclamation. There are estimates that over 10,000 boys and girls in New Jersey are trapped in this horrendous activity.

After the rally, I spoke with two sponsors of legislation to help address the problem – Senator Nellie Pou and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (below). Below the fold are comments from Attorney General Jeff Chiesa. Some additional video from the rally will be posted on the sidebar over the weekend.

A Conversation with Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll

To be an effective advocate for progressive causes and social issues, it is important that you know your opponents. Understanding their positions, especially those coming from smart people with whom you may disagree, will help you hone your position and strengthen your arguments.

With that in mind, Joey Novick and I travelled to Morris Township earlier today to have a conversation with Republican Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll. Carroll is a libertarian in the Ron Paul mode, and while most of his views are outside of what we may consider the mainstream, he is firmly entrenched in his principals. Our discussion included slavery, marriage equality, the voting rights act, anti-bullying legislation, medical marijuana, and what to do about Camden’s crime and poverty. Some of Carroll’s thoughts may be surprising or even shocking.

Morality has no Statute of Limitations

Update: The Assembly Appropriations Committee released the bill to the Assembly by a vote of 10-1-2.

When he’s not pushing bad policy in Trenton, Assemblyman Merkt is an historian and amateur astronomy buff. An almost equally famous astronomer, Galileo Galilei, once was condemned and sentenced to house arrest by the Catholic church for theorizing that the Earth revolved around the sun.

Pope John Paul II formed a commission to study that controversy – one of the “dark pages” in the church’s past. In 1992 the commission’s report said that the mistakes of the judges who tried Galileo needed to be acknowledged:

This subjective error of judgment, so clear to us today, led them to a disciplinary measure from which Galileo had much to suffer. These mistakes must be frankly recognized, as you, Holy Father, have requested” (L’Osservatore Romano, November 1, 1992).

350 years after Galileo’s death, Pope John Paul II apologized for their actions. The next year, he apologized for the church’s role in the African slave trade, and later to Jews, women and other minorities. “Never again,” he said.

What does this have to do with the good Assemblyman? One might think that Merkt – a convert to Catholicism – would understand the value of acknowledging the past and apologizing for New Jersey’s mistakes.

“Who living today is guilty of slave holding and thus capable of apologizing for the offense?” asked Assemblyman Richard Merkt, R-Morris. “And who living today is a former slave and thus capable of accepting the apology? So how is a real apology even remotely possible, much less meaningful, given the long absence of both oppressor and victim?”

Merkt may not think the pope’s historic apologies were meaningful either, but the rest of the world welcomed them as an important step towards reconciliation.

Slavery was a deeply painful scar on the conscience of American history and this apology would be an important symbol in healing division. Everyone who understands that there is no statue of limitations on morality should support Assemblyman Payne’s bill.

As for Merkt – does he think the Vatican should take back its apology? Or is this an intellectually inconsistent attempt at race-mongering?

An Assignment Full of…

Lap of Luxury: You have recently inherited a lot of money from your dear old aunt who passed away. Along with the cash from her estate, you have also become the owner of a large and fertile tract of land near Charleston, S.C. You have determined that the most profitable course of action is to build a plantation for the purpose of growing cotton. You have also established that slave labor is the only way of running your plantation without catastrophic personal and financial ruin. However, your dear aunt also has two sisters who may veto your plans if not properly convinced, and then withhold your inheritance from you. Mrs. Chomko and Mrs. Rutzler, your aunts, must be persuaded that slave labor is the best choice, because they are from the North and aren’t sure that they agree with slavery. Keep in mind that your aunts have moral as well as financial questions about your decision to use slave labor.

Your job: Create an advertisement that will convince your aunts that your idea is the best course of action.

First, create a list of the pros and cons of using slave labor. Then use the ideas from your list to create an advertisement that you plan to run in the newspaper, where your aunts will see it. You are hoping that your ad will be sufficiently persuasive that, upon seeing it, your aunts will give you the green light to begin building your new home.

Your advertisement must contain:

1. A catchy slogan (or name) for your plantation.

2. At least three reasons why slave labor is the best idea.

3. Reasons why your plantation won’t be financially sound if it doesn’t use slave labor.

4. Illustrations.

This assignment is so simple and so inoffensive that a sixth grader should be able to do it with no problem, right?  Yeah, not if you actually know a little bit about South Carolina and history.  Make the jump with me.

Please, Let Me Be Wrong

The Jersey Journal is announcing that Guttenberg Mayor David Delle Donna and his wife, Anna, have been indicted on federal corruption charges:

It seems Guttenberg Mayor David Delle Donna’s wife, Anna, has gotten used to a certain lifestyle.

According to a federal indictment unsealed today that charges both of them with extortion and mail fraud charges, the first lady spent thousands in ill-gotten cash on cosmetic surgery, Atlantic City gambling trips and department store gift cards.

The indictment also says Anna Delle Donna, at 58 nine years her husband’s senior, spent over $1,000 on a dog and “related accessories” and that both took liquor bottles from the town bar owner accused of paying the kickbacks.

In exchange for the cash, the indictment charges, the mayor helped the bar owner with problems she was having with police over security issues, “the improper storage and disposal of garbage,” and her efforts to get a variance for construction on a piece of residential property.

Make the jump with me.  There may be something more serious than garden-variety political corruption here.  Take your pepto.