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The raving thoughts of a misanthropic academic

January 19, 2005

Modern Slavery

In a compelling show of magnanimity, one which I seldom see in the New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a follow-up to his article of a year ago by revisiting two slaves he purchased from a Cambodian brothel.

On the surface, this article seems very crass. It is untenable to think that that a journalist would actually purchase two sex slaves from a pimp in order to write a story on their struggles post-slavery. But this story is different. Far from aggrandizing his own efforts, Kristof actually steps into the lives of the individuals he liberated and invests his resources (both journalistic and monetary) in their betterment.

This is really the substance of the article. Kristof does what many of us espouse a need to do—love others. He actually viewed a need and attempted to meet it. As terrible as the prostitution industry is, a much greater tragedy is that society holds scorn and contempt for those trapped from within its chains. The righteous indignation held by many Christians and Westerners in particular seems to overlook the point that we ought to love and care for these individuals. It makes me think, to quote the classic In His Steps, “what would Jesus do?” Would he see a need and ignore it? Would he condemn the prostitute for her actions? While he would certainly disapprove of them, his first instinct—and we see this many times in the Word—was to love. It’s interesting that we can stand to learn a great deal from a liberal reporter in a publication which espouses very few of the principles Christ taught.

Further, it is no small amount of irony that a reporter from the New York Times would communicate this message so clearly through his actions. I'm sure that Kristof will receive bad publicity for the good deed he has done. He will probably be criticized for investigating the struggles in the first place. In my view, Kristof did the right thing. He put into action love of humanity in a very real and powerful way. Perhaps his article will be a historical turning point in exposing the power and cultural elite to the very real problems of the developing world? If not, at the very least, two people are better off because Mr. Kristof cared. That makes his efforts worth while.
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Organic, free-range thought courtesy of your average, coffee-addicted, American Indian, academic. Program Manager @IGPatUA.


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