Of Human Bondage

What is it about mankind that causes us to exert our superiority by forcing others into servitude, slavery, bondage … to inhabit a lesser, parasitic, symbiotic status?

After watching Netflix’s recently released documentary, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, I felt wretched.

Wretched. Disgusted. Ashamed. Despondent. Dirty. Guilty.

Not just because of this arrogant man who considered himself privileged and entitled; but, because of the entitlement that’s engendered part and parcel of our heritage and history.

The four-episode miniseries chronicled an arrogant, egotistical, self-serving man without any moral compass, who – through money, manipulation, and blackmail – became a billionaire with all the trappings that designation implies: rich, powerful, connected colleagues and “pals,” who enabled and empowered his human trafficking of underage girls—hundreds of them in Palm Beach, New York, his private Virgin island, Paris and Spain … catering to the most base and primal human degradations through a network of the rich, famous, and powerful around the globe.

What began with disgust for such a loathsome man, quickly gained traction with the personal involvement and of other well-known figures, all of whom denied any wrongdoing whatsoever.

Why did Bill Clinton lie about being hosted by Epstein, when eyewitness accounts placed him on Epstein´s private island, as well as plenty of free trips on Epstein´s private jet(s)? Why did Prince Andrew maintain he had “no recollection” of intimacy with at least one adolescent girl younger than his own daughters, when rumors of his predatory sexual appetites had been circulating for years? And Donald Trump: who among us would expect anything other than lies and denials, claiming he´d had nothing to do with Epstein for “more than 15 years,” when the record clearly shows otherwise?

But this is bigger and more important than a story about one man, his accomplices, and victims—it’s the history of us all, taking and maltreating that which isn’t ours: body snatching and sharing.

It’s all about human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others,” states Wikipedia.

It’s as old as the battles for superiority between Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Esau, Peter and Paul, Joseph and his brothers—who sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt and into servitude.

Remember the anecdote about Moses being told from a burning bush to go before Pharaoh and insist that he let those who had emigrated to Egypt at the beckoning of Joseph – but later were held in bondage, enslaved to do the ruler’s bidding – to “let my people go!”? Read all about it in Exodus, the second book of the Bible.”

From “In the beginning …” to its last “Amen,” the Bible is filled with episodes of social injustices—including killing men, raping women, abusing children, and carrying them off to foreign lands.

“To the victor go the spoils.”

That could have been the “vicar,” as well.

How many people were tortured, persecuted, killed, and enslaved during the Crusades and the Christian Inquisition? Yet, to this day, our hymnals are filled with rousing renditions of “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” “Lift High the Cross,” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

How many youngsters have been sexually abused by pedophile priests, while the institutional hierarchy closed its eyes and ears? Don’t think just the Catholic church at fault. Almost daily, we learn of hypocritical evangelicals grandstanding on social media and broadcasts against the “heinous sin of homosexuality,” while they’re pandering to their own libidos on sites like “Grindr.”

Until they´re caught …

Wherever there’s warfare, human bondage and trafficking are sure to follow. History is replete with such accounts.

From its earliest days, USA colonists confiscated the land of Native Americans, banishing them to ghettos referred to as “reservations.” Slavery, our national sin, was followed by lynchings, rapes, and denial of rights to people of color—who continue to be treated unfairly and unequally. The Brits are complicit in slave-trading, too.

Which is why, indeed, “Black lives (must) matter!”

Elsewhere, European and international elite politicians, judges, and celebrities are alleged pedophiles who buy children from a “child supermarket” disguised as an orphanage in Portugal.

“Portugal is a pedophiles’ paradise,” said Pedro Namora, a Casa Pia orphan who witnessed 11 rapes on fellow orphans and now a lawyer campaigning on behalf of the Casa Pia victims. “If all the names come out, this will be an earthquake in Portugal. There is a massive, sophisticated network at play here–stretching from the government to the judiciary and the police.”

“The network is enormous and extremely powerful. There are magistrates, ambassadors, police, politicians–all have procured children from Casa Pia. It is extremely difficult to break this down. These people cover for each other because if one is arrested, they all are arrested. They don’t want anyone to know.”

Human trafficking also includes treating people inhumanely … as in the garment “sweat shops” where many perished, or in coal country where many miners contract, suffer, and die from “black lung disease.” Unions played an important advocacy role.

Immigrants who used to be welcomed to our melting pot are now eschewed and spit out, their children separated from them at the border and held hostage in crates and unsafe, unsanitary conditions. Only if we “need” them to trample down the grapes of wrath or do work few Americans are willing to do, are they abided.

Nations rising against each other, corrupt institutions, atrocities in the name of religion, powerful people and corporate criminals with big bucks used to buy and sell other people – especially women and children – as something that’s owned (property or chattel), traded, and abused are fountainheads for human misery and trafficking.

But human trafficking also hits much closer to home.

A friend in an industrial city north of Chicago co-founded and serves as executive director of Fight to End Exploitation, whose purpose is to end human trafficking in Wisconsin. Formerly known as the Racine Coalition Against Human Trafficking, it is a “network of local resources collaborating to increase communication among providers, identify gaps in services for victims, and prevent conditions that foster human trafficking in Wisconsin.”

No, we´re not in Kansas anymore.

Nor can we make believe this barbaric activity doesn’t exist.

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