January 11, 2010

A Note From Ben Skinner

Here's a note from Mountainfilm 2008 guest and 2009 judge Ben Skinner, the author and abolitonist:ben skinnerFriends:In 2007, our national lawmakers, bless their hearts, made today National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Last week, our president, to his undying credit, proclaimed this month National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.Big deal.America spends more money in a single day to fight the trade in illegal drugs than we do in an entire year to fight the traffic in human beings. In 2008, members of Congress gave themselves 200 times as much for their beloved earmarks, than they gave us to fight the war on slavery.But hey, they gave us a day to be aware of the problem.So please: be aware. Be aware that there are more slaves today than at any point in human history. Be aware that, as I write in this week’s Time magazine, gangs sell children for rape in the shadows of the 2010 World Cup stadiums. Be aware that slavery thrives even in America, a reality that the incomparably gracious survivor Maria Suarez will personalize when she appears alongside Lucy Liu, Lisa Ling, Ashley Judd, Lou de Baca and me on Larry King Live, CNN, Friday at 9PM ET. (And be aware that we tend to get bumped for important breaking news in the worlds of people like Tiger Woods or Jon Gosselin. So check the website before you tune in.)But also please be aware, unlike our friends in Washington, that awareness engenders responsibility to act robustly. Writing in 1861, two days before the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, Henry David Thoreau discouraged his friend from reading reports of slavery and the rumbling disunion. “Blessed were the days before you read a president’s message,” he wrote. “Blessed are they who never read a newspaper.” They are blessed, “for as long as you know of it, you are particeps criminis. What business have you, if you are an “angel of light,” to be pondering over the deeds of darkness?”Thoreau, torn between abolitionism and pacifism, meant that as an admonition. I took it as an exhortation. If you do as well, please tell Congress to fund the fight. More directly, please support Free The Slaves, an organization that goes beyond awareness-raising to actually carry out the promise contained in the Emancipation Proclamation. One way to help is to purchase A Crime So Monstrous through the FTS store at http://freetheslaves.madebysurvivors.com/product-p/fts44.htm. For a limited time, 100% of book sales through that link will go to fund Free The Slaves work.As before, I allow myself just one friend-spamming per year. As such, please make this one count by forwarding to friends, posting to blogs, shouting from status updates and mountaintops.Thank you all again, so much, for the support.//BEN

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