The headlines this past year have been dominated by Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter (BLM), the latter violently propelling themselves forward last summer.
This anti-Semitic, neo-Marxist movement has monopolized the narrative on racism. The Western cultural elite, and politicians, have fallen over themselves to bow down to this insidious ideology.
The woke left dominates our cultural institutions, on both sides of the pond. I call them “post-liberal Puritans” and they are enthusiastic champions of the BLM narrative on everything from newspapers to universities, sports fields to city centers. Their rhetoric on racism has focused mainly on the conceptual and geographical West, accusing it of an assortment of “transgressions” ranging from white privilege to unconscious bias and micro aggressions. Their constant metaphorical noise and thuggish protests dominate our public spaces, obscuring the truth about racism in other parts of the world, to the detriment of real victims.
A casual reader of the mainstream media (MSM) could be forgiven for thinking that the West represents the most racist ideology in the world, whereas the truth is astonishingly far from this interpretation. Western democracies, including the United States and Britain are perpetually lambasted by BLM and their post-liberal Puritan enablers for racism and their roles in historical slavery of black Africans and colonialist practices. Not only is this widespread gaslighting but it also portrays a somewhat narrow view of history.
The BLM movement and its enablers ignore the historical truth that Britain led the abolition of slavery in the 19th century in order to suit the narrative that the British are mainly racist colonizers who must purge themselves for past and present imagined sins.
The dominance of BLM’s narrative around racism means that those suffering today from a heinous form of racism – slavery based on skin color – are ignored.
The horrors of slavery documented in American history are still with us today. Happening right now in Africa, children are taken from their enslaved mothers and sold to other slavers, or left to die. Slaves are beaten and mutilated if they anger their masters. Women are raped and forced into prostitution.
Three times as many people are slaves today as there were during the entire 350 years of the entire trans-Atlantic slave trade. Yet almost total silence surrounds the tragic plight of contemporary slaves, mainly because the left defines their slavers as yet another group as victims of supposed Western racism.
Contemporary slavery is mostly prevalent in Africa, where black Africans are enslaved by lighter skinned Arabs. These black slaves in Arab African lands are ignored because their stories contradict the narrative of the “evil, white Western patriarchy”, propagated by the left, BLM, progressives and the MSM. This heinous intersection of identity politics means that Arab slavery of black Africans is ignored. Certainly, the Uighur Muslims are victims, imprisoned by the Chinese Communist Party in concentration camps. It is morally pertinent that we speak out about their plight. But victims of Islamist fundamentalists in Africa are mostly overlooked because of who their persecutors are.
During the BLM protests in London last year, thugs defaced the statue of Sir Winston Churchill, scrawling the words ‘racist’ on the plinth. Rather than defacing a statue of a man who saved the world from Nazi tyranny, perhaps these uninformed wokesters might instead put their energy into protesting real and contemporary victims of racism – black Africans slaves. But they haven’t and they won’t.
Even on the rare occasions when the tragic predicament of contemporary African slaves is highlighted, in MSM publications like ‘Time’, it turns into a criticism of European immigration policies rather than rightfully holding slavers and human traffickers to account. How sad that former slaves living in Italy regurgitate this woke propaganda, denying them the chance to call out their tormenters as the monsters they are, lest they contravene the post-liberal Puritan narrative on racism. This craven approach to contemporary slavery means that slavers and human traffickers thrive, accountable to no-one. And the plight of African slaves continues behind a veil of secrecy.
The BLM narrative on racism and slavery is toxic; once it takes hold it is impossible to shift. To object is to be branded racist, an accusation akin to being accused of being a witch in the Medieval era. And like the accusation of being a witch, the brand of racism can lead to loss of livelihood, imprisonment or worse.
Nevertheless, we must not succumb to the BLM narrative on racism, for if we do, real victims of racism, like contemporary slaves, are ignored. It is important to speak out on the suffering of the dispossessed and ignore the predictable accusations of racism lobbed at those who stand up to BLM and their post-liberal Puritan enablers. People must break the poisonous hold that has tightened over much of society. That much is owed to the fellow humans languishing in bondage. Silence is complicity. Far better to shift our attention from BLM to those who fight contemporary slavery, and hear the stories of freed slaves who are desperately trying to raise awareness of those they left behind in chains.
Organizations like The American Anti-Slavery Group are leading the way. This abolitionist charity focuses on Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Nigeria and Sudan, where slavery of black African men, women and children by Arabs continues unabated.
Christians in South Sudan have been at the mercy of Sudan’s Muslim rulers for decades. Former slave Francis Buk was only seven when he was captured by Islamic militants from a market in South Sudan and forced to endure ten years of abuse, humiliation and hard labor. During his enslavement his name was changed to a Muslim one and he was called ‘abeed’, meaning “black slave.” Buk is one of the lucky ones. He managed to escape and now lives in the US, where he writes and speaks prolifically in his endeavor to free the black slaves of Africa.
Another former slave, Simon Deng, was also captured as a child in his homeland of South Sudan and sold to an Arab master in the Sudan. Black Christian slaves are sold in the Sudan for as little as $10 each.
Francis Buk and Simon Deng are ignored by followers of woke ideology because they are Christians, a religion not designated a victim group by those who control the discourse on identity politics. That they are enslaved by a group designated as ‘victims’ of the big, bad white West means their plight will be forever ignored.
Islamist slavers are rife in Nigeria too. Proving yet again that Christians are unfashionable victims for the MSM, reports on Christian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram are now non-existent. One of their forgotten slaves, Leah Sharibu, has spent two years in captivity, her freedom denied to her because of her devotion to her Christian values.
Black skinned Muslims also are enslaved in countries like Mauritania. Slavery was only outlawed there as late as 1981. Despite slavery being made a crime in 2007, only one slaver has been prosecuted in Mauritania. This African country has a population of 3.4 million, of which nearly 680,000 people are enslaved. That means a fifth of Mauritanians are living in degrading, brutal, life ending captivity.
Slaves in Mauritania are called ‘Black Moors’, the slave master class, ‘White Moors’. Surely the very mention of the word ‘White’ to describe these slavers should have BLM and their cohorts screaming racism. But they are strangely silent on this very real example of racist slavery. Far easier for them to accuse mathematics of being racist than protest Mauritania, where dark skinned Africans are enslaved by lighter skinned Arab-Berbers, all because of the color of their skin.
Many of the left are fond of social engineering. They should apply this to Mauritania, where the concept of slavery is so culturally and historically ingrained that even slaves themselves support it, and see their masters as superior to them.
In that African gateway to Europe, Libya, slavery is endemic. In 2011, Barak Obama, David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy brought further destruction to this beleaguered country, with a French and British NATO led bombing campaign outing the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi. Their collective egos overlooked what might come next.
Libya is now an Islamist stronghold. Under Gaddafi it was already a quagmire of racism and the abuse of black migrant Africans seeking work there, or travelling to Europe, was common. Warring Islamist tribes have now capitalized on the chaos of the post-Gaddafi era. Angela Merkel’s decision to open Europe up to uncontrolled immigration has brought thousands more black African migrants to Libya, desperate to reach the promised land of Europe.
Almost half a million black sub-Saharan Africans are now trapped in Libya, languishing in prisons or sold in slave markets. Women are forced into prostitution after they are trafficked into Europe. Given that global lockdowns, in response to Covid-19, are decimating Africa, the number of migrants fleeing poverty and disease is set to escalate. It’s boom time in Libya for slavers and human traffickers.
Those cheering on illegal immigration to Europe need to realize that they are unwitting participants in human trafficking and consequent enslavement.
Despite repeated attempts to paint Donald Trump as a racist, the US worked hard under his presidency to tackle global slavery. Certainly, the Democratic Party is set to make the BLM narrative of racism official government doctrine. America is bound to drop down in the rankings of those countries trying to eradicate slavery, prolonging the misery of contemporary African slaves.
Systemic, destructive racism is ignored in countries where it is most endemic. The postcolonial narrative on slavery and racism deflects from this atrocity. It doesn’t suit the progressive narrative that it’s not the West enslaving black Africans.
The danger that their plight will be forgotten is compounded by compassion fatigue. Humans have a limited capacity for empathy, no matter their good intentions. If post-liberal Puritans continue to hector the innocent about racism, the interest in fighting real racism will wane. And if all that dominates public discourse is racism in the West, then that leaves very little room for a desperately needed focus on the tragedy of African slavery.
Israel-bashing at the United Nations (UN) illuminates why. Assorted Islamists and despots running the UN spend endless hours drawing up resolutions against Israel and making faux outraged speeches against the Jewish state. They purposely neglect those who truly suffer in our world mainly because many UN delegates come from countries which perpetuate this suffering. Tyrants then escape global scrutiny, leaving them free to persecute, enslave and murder at their pleasure. The MSM blindly follows the UN example.
Slavery survivors like Simon Deng and Francis Buk are the embodiment of living history. Their ordeals as slaves serve as reprimands, and reminders that we cannot ignore those who are enduring slavery because of the color of their skin.
The dominance of collective woke ideology means contemporary slavery is virtually hidden from public discourse. Those perpetrators who enslave black Africans are mostly immune to any consequences – thanks to the web we have allowed post-liberal Puritans to weave around racism, essentially trapping us all.
The political and cultural elite can’t be relied on to break the chains of contemporary slaves. Other than a few brave souls, like the Muslims who help run the American Anti-Slavery Group, any abolition movement in the Muslim world is virtually non-existent. We have a choice to make. We either remain hostages to post-liberal Puritans and continue to self-flagellate for past slavery and racism, or we liberate ourselves from their narrative so that the black slaves of Africa can be finally emancipated, for good.
Karen Harradine, an anthropologist and freelance writer, focuses on politics, the culture wars, and anti-Semitism. Born in South Africa, she has lived in Singapore and Canada, and now resides in the UK with her husband.