A SLAVE BY ANY OTHER NAME

Today, the owner of this $30 million mansion outside Albany, NY will appear in federal court for the second time since federal agents appeared at her door fifteen months ago, looking for a woman who’d been working 17-hour days and sleeping in a closet for almost six years.

THE OLD PLANTATION / SMOKING GUN 2012

Electrica in the Desert hasn’t checked on the outcome of Annie George’s case, because it isn’t news anymore. Who cares whether or not a slaveholder receives a verdict of harboring an illegal immigrant?  What we want to know is why she got away with appropriating a human being.  Are we expected to treat this mickymouse harboring charge as one of several equally legitimate outcomes?
Shamefully enough,  most mainstream media platforms will cover George’s court appearance with a straight face instead of asking why the real case was tossed.The focus should be on the fact that a slaveholder never faced any charges related to holding a human being in bondage – in spite of Homeland Security’s irrefutable evidence of George’s guilt.  Her victim was a middle-aged woman from a poverty-stricken region of India who spoke no English and had a 10th grade education.  She worked from 5:30 am until 11 pm for 85 cents an hour, caring for six children, cleaning, and cooking for at least seven people. She was allowed no time off, was denied any medical or dental care, and was told she’d be arrested when she tried to return to India.
Ahmedabad - Gujarat, India

Ahmedabad – Gujarat, India (Photo credit: Emmanuel Dyan)

But that’s not what the U.S. government is worried about – not now, and not ever. It ignored its own conclusive evidence, which met the standards for slavery in such compelling terms that the media had no obligation to give consideration to the omission of the word itself. The document Homeland Security agents filed in Albany’s federal court is a curious and confusing juxtaposition of strong, documented evidence of slavery – used to support one incongruous charge of encouraging an alien to establish illegal residency. The judge didn’t even make George post bond.
Media coverage conflated the evidence with the charge,  and soon created the impression that George was charged with actions just because they were listed. But the real story was the shock of reading through that well-documented litany of abuse and then arriving at the feeble charge it generated.
Evidently, it wasn’t feeble enough. Prosecutors took no action for so long that the judge dismissed the case because the delay violated George’s right to a speedy trial. In what appeared to be a gesture proving for the record that they had tried to see justice done, federal attorneys were back two days later with another charge guarenteed to strike fear into human traffickers everywhere. If they couldn’t nail her for encouraging an illegal immigrant, they’d go for a verdict of harboring one.
You know, instead of false imprisonment, kidnapping, assault, battery, and various violations of civil rights, labor, tax, and international law.
Homeland Security

Homeland Security (Photo credit: Truthout.org)

The bodies and lives of the world’s poor are harvested by the powerful everywhere, including the United States. In fact, the West has proven itself to be the master when it comes to turning people into tools – that’s why half the ravaged empire is in London and the other half is either here or trying to get here.
 This nation can’t afford the high-handed narrative (sorry – blame MSNBC. Chris Matthews said “meta-moment” last week. ) that accompanies and shapes its immigration policy. Nobody’s buying it – not anywhere in the world. The jingoistic reverence with which we regard the sanctity of our borders strikes those from continents we have carved up as ludicrous.
Historic Mansion

Historic Mansion (Photo credit: SimplySchmoopie)

Homeland Security and immigration policy are a dangerous mix. Watching H.S. treat those six years in the mansion as if they hadn’t been stolen from a human being was a bad experience for America. We are immigrants who share a violent past, one that still walks amongst us. But we have a Constitution that says we are the ones who make our policies, that we are equally valuable, and that it’s our job to keep power on a short leash.  If we give in to fear now, and hand ourselves over to interests poised to do our thinking for us, then we are surely lost.
Okay, end of lecture. Yes, this will all be on the exam.
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