Buy Two, Get One Free

Two reporters from the Baltimore Sun recently set two slaves free: The slaves were young boys, aged 10 and 12. The reporters had purchased them in the Sudan for about $500 each in American currency. Just what were freedom-loving Americans doing buying slaves in the first place? The reporters set out to the Sudan to prove a point: that even in our modern world slavery still exists. The slavery issue arose when Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan visited the Sudan earlier this year. Reporters asked Farrakhan about widespread reports of slavery in the Sudan--and why he didn't do something about it. Farrakhan insisted that there was no independent proof that slavery exists. Of course, the reason Farrakhan was so eager to deny that such a horrible practice exists in the Sudan is because the country is ruled by Islamic co-religionists--and most of the slaves are Sudanese Christians. That's why Farrakhan denounced accusations of slavery as either racist or part of a Jewish conspiracy to tarnish his image. At a news conference last March he laid down a challenge: "If slavery exists why don't you go as a member of the press? And . . . if you find it," Farrakhan added, "then . . . come back and tell the American people what you have found." Gilbert Lewthwaite and Gregory Kane, two Baltimore Sun reporters, took Farrakhan up on his offer. They traveled to the Sudan and proved in the most dramatic fashion possible that slavery in the Sudan is horrifyingly real. The reporters' description of how slave traders target Sudanese Christians reminded me of another persecuted people--the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto. To the shame of American Christians it has taken a Jewish writer--columnist Michael Horowitz--to expose the slavery of Sudanese Christians in publications like the Wall Street Journal. In his colorful prediction, Christians will be the Jews of the twenty-first century. Louis Farrakhan could have been a powerful voice for freedom for the besieged African Christians. He could have brought powerful pressure to bear on the Sudanese government. Instead, the Nation of Islam leader has been portraying himself as a liberator while defending a regime that enslaves black people a full 130 years after the practice was abolished in America. The Rev. Farrakhan claims to be a divinely ordained leader of an oppressed people. Last fall he trumpeted the success of his Million Man March, boasting: "Whether you like it or not, God brought the idea through me." But by remaining silent on African slavery, Farrakhan proves that he's more concerned with promoting his Islamic crusade than he is with the enslavement of non-Muslim blacks. There's a warning here for all of us--black and white alike. Beware of anyone who claims to be God's agent and yet exhibits indifference toward any moral or social outrage--whether slavery in the Sudan or abortion in the U.S. The only way Farrakhan can redeem himself is to revisit the Sudan and this time echo the words of Moses: Let my people go! If Farrakhan is not willing to do that, he should be ostracized and awarded the anonymity he so richly deserves.  


Chuck Colson



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