Features

The abolitionist

"The abolitionist" Continued...

Issue: "Portable Pentagon," March 1, 2003

This "mend it, don't end it" approach argues for teaching "sex workers"-including, incredibly, "child sex workers"-to say, "Please use a condom." But women and children in bondage are hardly in a position to insist on this-leading to an AIDS infection rate of up to 90 percent among prostitutes in India and Africa. In any case, Mr. Horowitz says, giving condoms to sex slaves is morally equivalent to improving conditions on 19th-century slave ships.

To fight this destructive attitude, anti-trafficking forces asked that the administration appoint someone with a strong "abolitionist" view of prostitution to head the new Trafficking office. Instead, the State Department "appointed a career ambassador [Nancy Ely-Raphael] who quickly became the captive of all the people who had opposed the anti-trafficking legislation," Mr. Horowitz says.

In a memo he called her "an irretrievably disastrous choice" who would not provide leadership and direction to "career personnel in the State Trafficking Office." He told WORLD that Ms. Ely-Raphael's views were "characteristic of the State Department approach to problems, which is to paper over it and declare victory irrespective of the substance." (Ms. Ely-Raphael did not return WORLD's telephone calls.)

Anti-trafficking activists were also angered by attempts by Trafficking Office personnel to "gut" the Trafficking Act by attempting to delegate presidential responsibility for waiving the Act. That, they say, would have eliminated from the statute its most essential component: holding the president personally accountable for progress in the prosecution of traffickers and the protection of victims.

For two years, anti-trafficking groups met with White House staffers and administration officials to hammer out concerns. At the top of their list: more aggressive prosecution of pimps, brothel owners, and corrupt cops who allow them to operate. They also continued to express frustration over the lack of aggressive leadership in the Trafficking office.

Two months ago, the pressure paid off when the administration shifted Ms. Ely-Raphael to another position. Once it became clear that she would be replaced, human-rights activists brought up John Miller's name.

Why? As a congressman, he had fought against giving China Most Favored Nation Status when the biggest employer in his district was Boeing-a company which sells jets to the Chinese. Despite Boeing's political muscle, Mr. Miller had even participated in protest demonstrations at the Chinese Embassy. In Congressman Frank Wolf's words, Mr. Miller is "a good person, always a very strong advocate for human rights. I know he will do an outstanding job."

That passion for human rights arises in part from Mr. Miller's Conservative Jewish roots. "I don't generally go around quoting Scripture," he says, but then points to Exodus 7, where the Lord tells Moses to say to Pharaoh, "Let My people go that they may serve Me." The message, he believes, "is pretty clear: You cannot be a slave to man if you want to develop a full and wholesome relationship with God." As well, he argues, the values of the Judeo-Christian ethical tradition "tell us that God has told us that slavery is wrong and that we have a moral mission" to stop it. Mr. Miller also identifies with the most moving lines of the Declaration of Independence: "All men are created equal" and are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."

One of the most critical aspects of Mr. Miller's job will be educating the public. Most Americans think slavery was abolished in 1863, Mr. Miller notes. They're gradually becoming aware that the peculiar institution is alive and well, both in America and abroad. "Slavery based on race is still with us. It's just not the most prevalent form of slavery," Mr. Miller explains. "Today, people are enslaved because of their religion, for sexual purposes, or because they've become the spoils of war. And we're not talking thousands, we're talking millions. We're going to look at what's going on around the world and we're going to use our power to try to help these people."

"Our job under the statute is to end trafficking," Mr. Miller says bluntly. If America fails to take the lead in rescuing the victims, he adds, "there's no other nation that will."

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