fbpx

Why Has The New York Times Not Launched The 2023 Project to Fight Modern-Day Slavery?

If the paper is serious about combating slavery and teaching it in the schools, it shouldn’t settle for only the year 1619. There’s another year that demands our attention: 2023.
[additional-authors]
July 4, 2023
Jim Caviezel stars in a scene from the movie “Sound of Freedom.” (Angel Studios)Jim Caviezel stars in a scene from the movie “Sound of Freedom.” (Angel Studios)

There are few things in life that are more heart-wrenching than the notion of children being sexually abused. It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I sat through “The Sound of Freedom,” an extraordinary film that exposes the modern-day evil of child sex trafficking. The film tells the true story of Tim Ballard, a fearless former Homeland Security agent who goes off on a harrowing journey to rescue trafficked children in third-world countries.

It’s a thriller with a deep soul and a haunting cause. There are scenes that are painful to watch: how two siblings are whisked away from their father through trickery; the kids’ screams as they’re locked in a cargo ship; the threats of beatings; the sense of total helplessness.

As I often do, after seeing the movie I went looking for the New York Times review. I counted 65 movie reviews for the month of June, but none for “The Sound of Freedom.” Oddly enough, except for Variety, I couldn’t find any reviews in The Washington Post and other mainstream publications.

I won’t speculate about the reasons for this oversight, but I do hope the media will catch up and cover this film. It deserves to clean up at the Oscars.

These abused children who are suffering in the darkest corners of society don’t have a powerful lobby in Washington. If “we the people” don’t rise up and make noise, who will?

As I sat riveted throughout the film, looking at a horror that is happening in our time, I couldn’t help thinking about The 1619 Project, that Pulitzer-Prize winning initiative by The New York Times. The initiative aims to reframe the history of America based on the year when slavery arrived on our shores. But I wondered: If slavery is so important to The Times, why have they not launched The 2023 Project to combat slavery that is plaguing our world right now?

The 1619 Project highlighted a slavery that is thankfully in our past. The horrific images of Black slaves that forever poisoned that time in American history are now only in books and movies. While the Project argues that racism is still prevalent in America, and people must better understand its roots, it doesn’t argue that the slavery of 1619 is still with us.

There is, however, a slavery that is still with us, and it comes in many forms.

“The United States is one of the most advanced countries in the world yet has more than 400,000 modern slaves working under forced labor conditions,” according to Andrew Forrest, founder of the Walk Free Foundation, which publishes the Global Slavery Index. “This is a truly staggering statistic and demonstrates just how substantial this issue is globally. This is only possible through a tolerance of exploitation.”

Within the broad web of modern-day slavery, perhaps no sub-group is more haunting than child sex trafficking, as you can see in “The Sound of Freedom.”

The U.S. State Department is well aware of the devastating impact of child sex trafficking, as it says on its website:

“Sex trafficking has devastating consequences for children, including long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, unwanted pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and even death.”

It’s estimated that 2 million children are trafficked each year. According to Save the Children, children make up 27% of all human trafficking victims worldwide, and two out of every three identified child victims are girls.

 

We’re fortunate that a thrilling movie exists that can break open this cause. This is a crisis that receives a stunning lack of attention. I get hundreds of emails every week about anti-Semitism and climate change and trans rights and police violence and countless other causes, but never any on the scourge of child sex trafficking.

These abused children who are suffering in the darkest corners of society don’t have a powerful lobby in Washington. They don’t have a “Project” named after them. If “we the people” don’t rise up and make noise, who will?

Maybe by the time you read this, The Times will have reviewed “The Sound of Freedom.” In any event, if the paper is serious about combating slavery and teaching it in the schools, it shouldn’t settle for only the year 1619.

There’s another year that demands our attention: 2023.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Print Issue: Breaking Barriers | May 17, 2024

In their new book, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Jew,” Emmanuel Acho and Noa Tishby bring their vastly different perspectives to examine the complex subject of antisemitism in America today.

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.