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This is the first in a series of articles about slavery in the United States; I anticipate three entries overall.  In Posse Comitatus, https://perrinlovett.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/posse-comitatus/ (one of my most popular articles despite its considerable length thank you), I briefly mentioned the evil institution of slavery as one of the major problems haunting the U.S. in the mid-nineteenth century. 

These three articles are concerned with slavery in the U.S. in the 21st century. 

If you’ve read Gerry Spence’s From Freedom to Slavery, http://www.amazon.com/From-Freedom-To-Slavery-Rebirth/dp/0312143427, you have an idea where I going with this.

At the very end of 1865 the 13th Amendment was added to the Constitution, forbidding the practice.  However, slavery has not gone away, it has only changed forms.  It is still as satanic a practice as ever.

The 13th Amendment reads (entirety): “Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.  Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

At the time of its adoption, the Amendment was a God-sent blessing for the former black slaves in the South (and the North).  President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (another act of Congress, without an act of Congress) only freed those slaves in the then rebelling southern States as territory was claimed by the federal army.  Its effect was sporadic and when the war concluded there was tremendous speculation whether the effects would last.  Congress reacted by swiftly presenting the Amendment to the States for ratification.  On December 6, 1865 Georgia’s vote finalized this process and the Amendment was proclaimed officially on December 18, 1865.  Mississippi has the dubious distinction of being the last State to ratify – in 1995, although the vote was not reported to Congress until this year, 2013!

History shows that after 1865, segregation and related laws essentially kept the practice alive against blacks, altered only slightly, for the better part of a century.  My focus here is not on history but on the present.  As I said, despite being forbidden, slavery is alive and is growing in the U.S.  It is no longer limited by race or color.  Modern slavery affects the majority of the American people.

In the future installments on this issue I will cover the growth of this new institution and what it means for the modern-day serfs.  The new and widespread form is more insidious than its predecessor.  Herein I will relate to you the existence of one particular kind of slavery which is more directly in line with the ancient practice. 

First, you may be wondering how I could believe in the existence of vile servitude in this era?  You also may ponder, if what I say is true, why people tolerate it?

This first question I hope will be answered during the series.  Mr. Spence’s book is an excellent resource as well on this point.  The second was answered over 2000 years ago by a Roman named Sallust.  Sallust said, of people in general, “Only a few prefer liberty, the majority seek nothing more than fair masters.”  People do not merely tolerate oppression, many demand it.

Now, I want to talk about a group of people in our country today who have had their choice in the matter decided for them – by unfair, criminal masters.  These unfortunate few are virtually chained and have little chance for freedom without outside intervention.

I’m talking about the victims of “human trafficking.”  This is the term used for modern, actual slavery where people are bought and sold.  It takes many forms, including forced labor and forced organ “donation,” among others.  The type I will focus on is perhaps the most pervasive and morally offensive.  All forms are offensive but this one touches emotions harder than others and it is one I have seen closer than the others.  It is commonly known as “sex trafficking.”

Because of my profession I see many things others may miss.  For instance, I can usually spot a drug addict or a drug dealer.  I can also spot prostitutes.  Unfortunately, I do not have to look far for any of the three.  My weekly routine takes me through the huge intersection of a major Interstate highway (I-20) and a busy, commercialized secondary road.  The junction is only few miles from my house and is the center of what used to be a decent neighborhood.  I say “used to be” because of the horrible decline I have witnessed over the past few decades.  Again, I see (and hear about) things others normally do not.  To an outside observer the area would appear quite normal, prosperous even.  This is the same area where thousands of golf fans and patrons gather every spring for the Masters Tournament.

At first I began to notice an influx of seedy looking characters who walked the streets with seemingly nothing to do.  I’m not passing judgment, just making an observation.  They even established “camps” behind local businesses.  Last Thanksgiving I found one such man passed out drunk on the sidewalk of the afore-mentioned busy road.  At first I thought he was dead.

Then, at some point, I became aware of the working girls, their pimps, and the growth of the local drug trade.  The girls are the easiest to pick out.  Fairly pretty girls don’t constantly hang out at gas stations at all hours and ride off with random strangers.  The area is replete with motels which offer convenient bases of operations.  One finds the pimps loitering about the parking lots, usually drunk or high. 

I have a great deal of sympathy for the girls.  Most of them look like nice, average, American young women.  It’s obvious they come from extreme difficulty and find it anew every day.  In addition to the threats of disease, violence, and arrest, they also face the prospect of unwittingly joining the deeper ranks of the sex trade.  There was an attractive blonde I saw almost every time I passed through for a year or so.  I never saw her after one Masters’ week; I suspect foul play.  Not all of our golf visitors are upstanding gentlemen.  The girls seem pitiful.  The pimps I tend to think of as rats and I have a difficult time keeping my vehicle from squashing them.

The local drug trade is centered in some of the motels, but more prominently in the various apartment complexes behind the motels.  I know this because I have defended several dealers in court and because of my routine dealings with local law enforcement.  The Sheriff’s Department has done a fairly good job of addressing the problem as far as it goes.  However, every bust seems to only stir the dealers and their clients around rather than eliminate them.

Yes, I am a libertarian (not a party Libertarian with a capital “L”) whose general disdain for government borders on anarchic.  Why then do I condemn drugs and prostitution?  I understand the old phrase, “You can’t legislate morality.”  This is true, as drugs and prostitution are currently illegal but continue nonetheless.  Remember this piece is not about the virtue or lack thereof concerning such laws but about victims of slavery.  I, as a freedom lover, do not support drug and other repressive criminal laws.  As a sane man though, I do not support dangerous practices and cultural degeneracy.  Sometimes one bad thing leads to another, maybe worse.  The solution, if it is to be found, is societal.  It rests with the people, not the government.

At any rate, this emerging hotbed of local vice has given rise to a worse and truly criminal element.  Most local people are oblivious to the fact this particular section of metro Augusta, Georgia is, or was, a major center in the sex slave trade.  I know this also from my work.  Local and state authorities, along with the FBI conducted an operation to eliminate the problem a few years ago.  I am not sure if they were successful; these rings tend to be highly mobile and are used to playing cat and mouse with the police. 

The trade is run by disgusting filth that make the average rodent-pimps seem pious by comparison.  They prey on local girls with problems – drug addicts, prostitutes, run-aways, etc.  They also kidnap and import girls from places like Asia and Eastern Europe.  It is a global problem which even the useless at best, craven at worst U.N. has condemned.  Some of the victims are really sold to “owners” while others are forced to work in exploitative fashion in various ignoble jobs.

My direct knowledge of the matter as it is locally connected comes, again, from my legal work.  One of my previous clients was caught by the FBI (mistakenly) during the crackdown.  He had no part in the targeted operation but was participating in a “non-crime” in the wrong place at the worst possible time.  He was turned over to the Sheriff for misdemeanor prosecution.  Given his pathetic plight and the excellence of his lawyer, the poor fellow was set free with no record of conviction. 

The client may have fared well (if embarrassingly) in court, but he must still live with himself and those around him.  His non-crime would have terrible implications for his family, if discovered, and he was truly demoralized about the entire ordeal.  I really believe he will never be in this situation again; I pray he is at peace now.  If you know someone with such a problem, stand up and help.

That is what I mean about The People taking control and care of their lives.  Drug abuse and other problems can be halted if detected early by friends and family.  Of course, in Amerika today, many of us don’t really know our friends that well and families are becoming dis-jointed relics of a bygone era.  Only through individual actions can we hope to fix these problems, We the People.

The people should also push law enforcement to go after real criminals, like sex traffickers (and murderers, arsonists, bansters, and politicians), and stop harassing everyone else.  Unfortunately, as I fear I will convey in the next few segments, and to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson (ironically, a slave owner himself), the people are often poor guardians of their own freedom.

The next two installments will deal with systematic slavery which has nearly all of in its grip.  Get ready to get angry.