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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005


A Purple Sex Issue

posted by Brian Ulrich at Wednesday, February 02, 2005 permalink View blog reactions
There are some issues on which even the most radical feminists and fundamentalists can find common ground. One of these is that recently written about by Nicholas Kristof, the use of women as sex slaves. While this issue cannot be solved with a magic bullet, he does have some suggestions:

"With that aim in mind, the West should pressure nations like Cambodia to adopt a two-part strategy. First, such nations must crack down on the worst forms of flesh-peddling. (A U.N. report estimated that in Asia alone, 'one million children are involved in the sex trade under conditions that are indistinguishable from slavery.')

"Two girls, age 4 and 6, were being quietly offered for sale in Poipet earlier this month. That kind of child abuse can be defeated, as has been shown in the Cambodian hamlet of Svay Pak, which specialized in pedophilia. When I first visited it, 6-year-olds were served up for $3 a session, but after foreign pressure, those brothels are now shuttered.

"Second, they must crack down on corrupt police officers who protect the slave traders. Here in Poipet, local people whispered to me that one brothel kept terrified young virgin girls locked up in the back, awaiting sale. So I marched in the brothel's back entrance and looked around.

"As it happened, this brothel was undergoing an expansion, which will make it the biggest in town, and the back rooms were all undergoing renovation and empty. But then the owner rushed in - and introduced himself as a senior police official.

"I asked him if he imprisoned young girls in his brothel, and he replied: 'That's impossible, because I work in the police criminal division, and so I clearly know the law.'

"Getting countries like Cambodia to confront the sale of children is easier than one may think. I'm generally very suspicious of economic sanctions, but the U.S. State Department's office on trafficking has used the threat of sanctions very effectively to get foreign governments to take steps against trafficking (such as the closing of the pedophilia brothels at Svay Pak). But it shouldn't be just one lonely office in the State Department demanding crackdowns. Where's everybody else?"

He leaves out one very important point, however, though he does what I am about to suggest. The first rule of politics is to define the issue. We need to drop the "human trafficking" line and call a spade a spade. Americans stand against slavery. There is slavery in the world. By all that we hold dear, we must confront it. President Bush in his State of the Union message said, "I will work with Congress to ensure that ... human life is never bought and sold as a commodity." That's a line that has far more relevant contexts than stem cell research.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.