Lindberg: Prop 2 banning slavery is little more than lip service

This commentary is by Stu Lindberg, of Cavendish.

On July 2, 1777, Vermont became the first colony to abolish slavery in its constitution as well as provide full voting rights to African American males. Vermonters owned a total of 25 slaves that year. The United States Congress ratified the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the entire nation in December 1865. In November 2022 — 245 years after abolishing slavery — Vermont overwhelmingly passed Proposition 2. This amendment adds language to the state constitution prohibiting slavery and indentured servitude in any form. By doing so, Vermonters recommitted themselves legally and morally against enslaving fellow human beings. As good as it makes us feel about ourselves, one has to wonder if Prop 2 is little more than lip service.

The United States had an estimated total of 4 million slaves in 1860. In comparison, the global slavery index shows that there are 57,000 enslaved people in the United States today. Kevin Bales, professor of Contemporary Slavery and co-author of the Global Slavery Index, states that the practice of slavery has never stopped in the U.S. or abroad regardless of politico-legal prohibitions. What is the definition of slavery? “It is about one person completely controlling another person — and using violence to maintain control — with the ultimate aim of exploitation,” Bales explains. At present, there are around 40 million enslaved people in the world including victims of forced labor, debt bondage, domestic servitude, human trafficking, child labor, forced marriage, many sex workers, and descent-based slavery.

The ugly truth is that many of the comforts we enjoy as Vermonters and Americans come at the expense of our fellow brothers and sisters who toil and suffer in various forms of endless exploitative relationships. The cell phones to which we are addicted and the so-called “clean” energy alternatives, like solar energy panels and electric vehicle (EV) batteries, require rare earth minerals. These are sourced in African mines and processed in Chinese factories that run on forced labor, especially child labor. The Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, has 873,100 slaves. 40,000 of these slaves are children that are forced to work in the country’s cobalt mines. The cobalt, that they are forced to dig up with their bare hands, is essential for making EV batteries. The DRC provides 60 percent of the world’s cobalt suuply. Despite commitments from corporate manufacturers, the huge increase in demand (spurred by government EV mandates and subsidies) means that these conditions will continue unabated.

The only way that modern day forced child labor will end is by loud and concerted efforts to make consumers aware of these gruesome realities and the consequences of their buying decisions. Voting to add language that outlaws a practice that has been outlawed for nearly three centuries asks nothing of us. How many of those who championed Prop 2 are willing to accept the ecological and human rights travetsies that lay in the wake of EV manfacturing? How many are willing to give up their smart phones to prohibit slavery and indentured servitude in any form?

There are many groups that are fiercely dedicated to the ending modern slavery. A simple internet search will allow you to find an organization whose work speaks to your heart. My family supports Exodus Cry. Vermonters have an opportunity to put into action the sentiment that we expressed on November 8th. We have talked the talk. I hope you will join me in walking the walk.

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11 thoughts on “Lindberg: Prop 2 banning slavery is little more than lip service

  1. Actually, the original Vermont Constitution only banned adult slavery, so this is a bit of catch-up work. Furthermore, since slavery is still going on sub rosa in the US (mainly parvenus holding Second and Third World au pairs and nannies in durance vile, maybe some meat processing plants doing the same with their workers), it doesn’t hurt to have this addendum in place.

  2. These people are nuts. They should bring their message to Africa where slavery still exists. Blacks selling their own to Muslims.

  3. I think it was more about leftist being able to amend the Vt constitution as they see fit rather then just the slavery or ileagized killing of unborn. Once they’ve done it they’ll have no problem doing it as they please.

  4. Vermont can take the word ” Slavery” out of our Constitution to make people feel good,
    but why, we haven’t had slaves in the state for centuries, but these same crusaders are
    driving around in their EV to save the world, while ” slave labor ” manufacture the parts
    for there vehicles, Oh that’s different …………….. Hypocrites.

    Slavery is alive and well throughout the world mainly in China supplying all the ” Green
    New Deal ” parts and EV ” batteries “, yes all you Tesla fans and others.

    You should all be proud, you are not slave owners, but you are promoters !!!

  5. How long before the A.C.L.U. is in court contending, “indentured servitude in any form”, means criminals can not be required to repay their debt to society?

    • Good point!

      In the South during Reconstruction, enormous numbers of Black men were arrested and charged and convicted of such felonies as failing to yield the sidewalk to a white person, then flogged. This gave them an official record as a felon, so every time the power structure needed more men on the chain gang, they could arrest someone who had just littered and, under the terms of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, put him there for whatever period of time.

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