Pistof And Fact-Free
I was going to give Nick "Pistof" Kristof a pass on his self-aggrandizing series on sex slavery in the New York Times
, mainly because the subject is so tragic that bashing Kristof for indulging his ego seems beside the point. Kristof's latest column surpasses my capacity for tolerance, however.
In several columns and an online interactive feature, Kristof went into great detail about his efforts to buy the freedom of two young Cambodian women who were indebted to the owners of the brothels where they worked. In tomorrow's column, however, he tells concerned e-mailers who wanted to follow his example that purchasing the freedom of similarly situated young women "is not a long-term solution." After presenting himself as the Abraham Lincoln (or, at least, Walter Coppage) of sex slaves, he tells others they shouldn't bother trying to emulate his shining example.
More offensively, Kristof uses the issue to smear liberals and feminists. He writes:
Senator Paul Wellstone helped direct the fight against trafficking, but since his death, leadership on the issue has passed overwhelmingly into Republican hands. Likewise, most mainstream women's groups, like the National Organization for Women and the Feminist Majority Foundation, have been shamefully lackadaisical about an issue that should be near the top of any feminist agenda.
"I'm critical of my sister feminists," says Donna Hughes, a professor of women's studies at the University of Rhode Island and an expert on trafficking. "To me, the two biggest threats to women today are Islamic fundamentalism and the trafficking and normalization of prostitution. Mainstream feminists really have not been responding to these issues or active on them the way they should be."
I'd say its impossible to objectively quantify whether "the religious right" or "liberals" and "feminists" have been more active or vocal on the issue. But certainly liberals and left-leaning organizations have spoken out on the issue for many years. For example, Human Rights Watch, which is not a lefty-free zone, has been regularly campaigning against sex trafficking around the world
for at least the past 10 years. Before Kristof's hero, Bush, took office, President Clinton sponsored
"ground-breaking" legislation which "offer[ed] protection and an opportunity for permanent residency for victims who testify against those who enslave them."
And, hey, here's a recent article on the Feminist Majority Foundation's website about the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children in Nepal. (Aw, I bet they just threw that up there, in a fit of penis envy, after reading of Pistof's heroic deeds.) No, the FMF was actively working on the issue long before it made Kristof's column. In 2000,
Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal and other feminist leaders met with State Department officials to argue that sex traffickers should not be given a way out of prosecution by the inclusion of the word 'force' in proposed legislation. Smeal argues that women are often coerced into stating that they consented to their situation, and argues that sex traffickers - not women victimized by the illegal sex trade - should stand trial and face prosecution.
How shamefully lackadaisical -- and I'm not talking about the Feminist Majority Foundation!
Has NOW ignored the issue of sex trafficking in other countries? Need you ask?
Kristof presumably could have learned these facts if he made the effort. More importantly, Kristof could advocate the cause of victimized women more effectively if he'd leave the fact-free cheap shots against "liberals" and "feminists" to the half-wits at the National Review.