Asking The Right Questions And Thinking Critically About "Slavery" In The Sudan
As many of you know, at the very least, we are not satisfied with the manner in which members of the US Congress, White conservatives, Black civil rights leaders and members of the "mainstream" press have handled the issue of "slavery" in the Sudan. Thus, we have not joined in with those who have jumped on the "slavery" in the Sudan bandwagon. For the most part, we think those who have been the most vocal on this issue have either only looked at the issue superficially, or have embraced the cause because they have hidden agendas. In order to explain exactly why we think as we do, today we look at the words of Minister Jabril Muhammad, Charles Carlson of We Hold These Truths, and an open letter from The European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council.
One of the most striking aspects of this issue is the almost total lack of investigative reporting and the imbalanced manner in which the facts have been weighed. In many cases, we have noticed important pieces of information totally and we believe, willfully omitted from news reports. Some of it stems from religious bias, some from superficial or even stupid reporting and some, we think, grows out of a deliberate effort to keep information from entering into the public discourse - particularly in the West.
But regardless to what one may think of the Sudanese government or the principals in this issue, how should this issue or any subject, for that matter be approached? Again, regardless to the subject, how can and should we approach anything that we wish to learn the truth of?
We think that Minister Jabril Muhammad has demonstrated some excellent thinking in this area. In his book This Is The One, he provides an outline of how the research process works and how crucial it is for all of us to consider how the research process contributes to the news that we learn of as well as the development of what is commonly referred to as "popular opinion". We think his words are very instructive to any who may be interested in the recent attention given to the Sudan.
The aim and purpose of the research process is to uncover truths by the means of the principles of scientific investigation. The first step involves the determination of what questions can or should be answered. Now the steps of the research process are of such nature that they merge one into the other. The interrelatedness of the steps in any effort of research are such that the nature of the first step greatly fixes the nature of the last step. Errors or mistakes in the beginning steps of investigation may produce problems which result in the prevention of the successful conclusion of the research effort. Worse, conclusions rooted in errors fallacies, etc., can end in death and destruction, when they are applied to such serious problems as the "race" issue. The more important the issue the greater the care that must be exercised, from the formulation of the theme to be studied, to the collection of data, to the final presentation and use made of the conclusions. This does not mean that care need not be used in small matters.
It is well known among scholars and students that the seeker of truth must maintain thoughtful attention between his studies, and their relation to the accessible knowledge that there is, and to the emerging views and even to possibilities. Researchers also know that the applications of the results must be anticipated from the start of a study, if the research is intended to resolve an immediate and practical problem.
What the investigator determines that can or can't be measured or weighed will influence what elements he selects or omits as he forms his approach to the problems he faces. This in turn greatly influences the type of evidence seen as relevant to the answer the researcher seeks. After the data has been gathered and the research design or pattern has been fixed, several irreversible decisions are built in, which substantially determines the type of analysis and interpretation of the findings.
This brings us to the fact that an overemphasis of certain factors, or omitted information, can result in the total failure of the seekers of truth to realize their objective. The omission of relevant facts must result in the same thing as deliberate discarding of facts - something less than the truth or no truth at all. It goes almost without saying that the purpose with which one approaches the subject, influences the selection and use of material in any research project.
The above outline from Minister Muhammad, in our estimation, is essential for all parties who are looking for the truth of what is going on in the Sudan. We especially think this applies to opinion leaders and members of the press who are having their trips and "investigations" in the Sudan paid for by Christian Solidarity International (CSI), a group that has been foremost in circulating the argument that slavery exists in the Sudan, with the full backing of the Sudanese government.
One Black leader who had his trip to the Sudan paid for by CSI was the Rev. Al Sharpton. According to the Nation Of Islam's International Representative, Minister Abdul Akbar Muhammad, Nation Of Islam Leader Minister Louis Farrakhan had given him advice to pass along, in consultation, to Rev. Sharpton, prior to his trip to the Sudan. According to Minister Abdul Akbar Muhammad, in his recent "Africa and the World" column:
"Before Rev. Al Sharpton left for his trip to the Sudan, Minister Louis Farrakhan asked me to say two things in consulting with Reverend Sharpton. Min. Farrakhan gave me the verse from the Holy Qur'an that says: "When an unrighteous man brings you news, look carefully into it-lest you harm a people in error and be sorry for what you have done." In addition, he said, "When you go into a man's house, try to go into the front door and not the back door."
Unfortunately, circumstances did not permit me to give these words to Rev. Sharpton. However, I must give credit to Rev. Sharpton on his trip to the Sudan. Although he did go in through the back door, crossing the border from Kenya into the SPLA (Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army) controlled area, he would not allow himself to be engaged in the so-called public act of buying slaves back. This is a big fraud perpetrated by entities that seek to pit Christians against Muslims. By exploiting a war and its prisoners, they are attempting to hurt the relationship that Muslims and Christians have developed throughout the world.
Minister Farrakhan's advice for Rev. Sharpton, we think, is important and exemplifies the spirit contained in what Minister Jabril Muhammad wrote about the research process. We think that it is incumbent upon all who are having their trips to the Sudan paid for, and their tours guided by Christian Solidarity International to not only consider what they learn on their trip but also what they may learn about Christian Solidarity International.
To that end we provide below an open letter written by The European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council to Anti-Slavery International, in part regarding Christian Solidarity International as well as a brief interview we conducted with Charles Carlson of We Hold These Truths. Mr. Carlson is a White Christian who has been following the situation in the Sudan and the activities of Christian missionaries for many years.
TIME TO SPEAK OUT ON CHRISTIAN SOLIDARITY INTERNATIONAL AND SUDAN:
AN OPEN LETTER TO ANTI-SLAVERY INTERNATIONAL
From The European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council
We address this open letter to Anti-Slavery International given its well-deserved reputation as one of the world's premier human rights organisations, and its particular concern about slavery and slavery-like practices. We call upon Anti-Slavery International to once again publicly speak out with regard to the claims of government-sponsored slavery and "slave redemption" in Sudan being made by groups such as Christian Solidarity International.
A civil war has been fought in Sudan between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) since 1983. As Anti-Slavery International will be only too aware, while there have been legitimate concerns about inter-tribal raiding and abduction in the course of this conflict, several organisations and anti-Sudanese activists have claimed there is a flourishing "slave trade" in Sudan in which the Sudanese government and its northern forces raid southern villages and "enslave" Dinka tribesmen, women and children. These claims have been made by groups such as the Swiss-based Christian Solidarity International (CSI). CSI further claim that in the course of visits to parts of southern Sudan it has engaged in "slave redemptions" whereby southern Sudanese tribesmen, women and children are supposedly "bought back" from northern Sudanese tribesmen said to have abducted them. Christian Solidarity International and other groups claim to have "bought" back or "redeemed" thousands of slaves, often several hundred at a time, from Arab traders. (1) These groups have also been active in taking outsiders in with them on pre-arranged trips. Westerners, often with no experience whatsoever of Africa, then come back believing what they have been told they saw. Having taken these claims at face value, several of these "political pilgrims" have taken somewhat opportunistic positions with regard to "slavery" in Sudan.
This has degenerated into little more than a propagandistic circus. African-American activists such as Rev Al Sharpton and pop star Michael Jackson have now also been caught up in this circus. (2) Even 'The New York Post' has described Al Sharpton as "a crass opportunist". (3) We now also have further crass opportunism in the form of anti-Sudanese activists deliberately getting themselves arrested in front of the Sudanese embassy in Washington. Former District of Columbia Congressional delegate Walter E. Fauntroy, radio talk show host Joe Madison and the Hudson Institute's Michael Horowitz all chained themselves to the fence in front of the Sudanese embassy in protest at "slavery" in Sudan. When they appeared in court their lawyers were Johnnie Cochran, of O.J. Simpson fame and former Monica Lewinsky scandal independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr. (4) All these people claim to be responding in large part to allegations about "slavery" and "slave redemption" made by groups such as Christian Solidarity International.
It is also clear that there is concern amongst better-informed sources much closer to the issue about this American campaign. 'Africanews', a Nairobi-based newsletter closely identified with the Roman Catholic Church in Kenya and in southern Sudan, has observed that:
"Analysts, mainstream Church officials, and aid workers are worried that the stance taken by the Christian Right might jeopardize relief operations and precipitate a humanitarian crisis in Sudan...Since last year, interest in Sudan by Americans has mushroomed largely due to campaigns led by missionary groups and U.S. based African-American churches, resulting in an unusual alliance of right-wing politicians identified with the Republican Party and members of the Democratic Congressional Black Caucus...Observers also note that some leaders - particularly Rev. Al Sharpton - could be using the Sudanese conflict to build political careers back home." (5)
Anti-Slavery International has itself spoken out in the past challenging many of the claims made by Christian Solidarity International. The official 1997 Anti-Slavery International report on allegations of Sudanese slavery commented on claims of government involvement in slavery: "[T]he charge that government troops engage in raids for the purpose of seizing slaves is not backed by the evidence. (6)
Anti-Slavery International's comments were supported by the then co- director of African Rights, the human rights expert, and Sudan specialist, Alex de Waal:
"(O)vereager or misinformed human rights advocates in Europe and the US have played upon lazy assumptions to raise public outrage. Christian Solidarity International, for instance, claims that "Government troops and Government-backed Arab militias regularly raid black African communities for slaves and other forms of booty". The organization repeatedly uses the term "slave raids", implying that taking captives is the aim of government policy. This despite the fact that there is no evidence for centrally-organized, government-directed slave raiding or slave trade." (7)
Anti-Slavery International has also articulated deeper concerns about the sort of claims made by Christian Solidarity International. In a submission to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva you publicly stated:
"There is a danger that wrangling over slavery can distract us from abuses which are actually part of government policy - which we do not believe slavery to be. Unless accurately reported, the issue can become a tool for indiscriminate and wholly undeserved prejudice against Arabs and Muslims. [We] are worried that some media reports of "slave markets", stocked by Arab slave traders - which [we] consider distort reality - fuel such prejudice." (8)
Anti-Slavery International has also questioned other claims made by Christian Solidarity International, particularly its claims that tens of thousands of people have been "enslaved" in Sudan. In your 1999 submission to the Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, for example, your organisation stated that
"A representative of Christian Solidarity International spoke at the beginning of this year of "tens of thousands" of people in slavery in Sudan, and of "concentration camps" for slaves. At Anti-Slavery International, we know of no evidence to justify an assertion that 20,000 people or more are currently held as captives and slaves in these areas of Sudan."
Christian Solidarity International's Claims Challenged by Other Independent Sources
As Anti-Slavery International will know, there have since been further detailed criticisms of the claims made by Christian Solidarity International. One credible source is the report by the Canadian government's special envoy to Sudan, John Harker, into human rights abuses in Sudan. The Harker report, 'Human Security in Sudan: The Report of a Canadian Assessment Mission', was commissioned by the Canadian government and published in February 2000. One of the two missions with which John Harker was tasked was to: "independently investigate human rights violations, specifically in reference to allegations of slavery and slavery-like practices in Sudan. (9) While Harker was critical of many human rights abuses in Sudan, he clearly questioned the credibility of claims of large-scale "slave redemption" made by Christian Solidarity International:
"[R]eports, especially from CSI, about very large numbers were questioned, and frankly not accepted. Mention was also made to us of evidence that the SPLA were involved in 'recycling' abductees...Serious anti-abduction activists...cannot relate the claimed redemptions to what they know of the reality. For example we were told that it would be hard not to notice how passive these 'slave' children are when they are liberated or to realize how implausible it is to gather together so many people from so many locations so quickly - and there were always just the right number to match redemption funds available!"
The Harker Report also detailed how fraudulent "slave redemptions" were being used to raise money for the SPLA, money which he stated is used to purchase arms and ammunition:
"Several informants reported various scenarios involving staged redemptions. In some cases, SPLM officials are allegedly involved in arranging these exchanges, dressing up as Arab slave traders, with profits being used to support the SPLM/A, buy weapons and ammunition...We did speak with an eyewitness who can confirm observing a staged redemption and this testimony conformed with other reports we had from a variety of credible sources. The 'redeeming group' knew they were buying back children who had not been abducted or enslaved. The exchange was conducted in the presence of armed SPLA guards. The 'Arab' middle man/trader delivering the children for 'redemption' was recognized as a member of the local community even though he was dressed up in traditional Arab costume for the event." (10)
Christian Solidarity International's claims of mass "slavery" in the Nuba mountains have also been firmly questioned by human rights experts. Alex de Waal, for example, states that CSI has "also alleged that there is mass enslavement in the Nuba mountains, which is contested by Nuba human rights activists". De Waal states that "African Rights' monitors in the Nuba Mountains have come across two incidents of possible - but unconfirmed - enslavement in two and a half years". (11)
The Reuters news agency has also reported deliberate misrepresentations with regard to "slave redemptions": "Local aid workers...say that they have seen children who they have known for months passed off as slaves...And Reuters interviewed one boy in Yargot who told a completely implausible story of life in the north, a story which he changed in every respect when translators were swapped." (12)
In May 1999, the 'Christian Science Monitor' also clearly stated: "There are increasingly numerous reports that significant numbers of those 'redeemed' were never slaves in the first place. Rather, they were simply elements of the local populations, often children, available to be herded together when cash-bearing redeemers appeared." (13)
It is clear that several independent sources have questioned fundamentally the claims made by Christian Solidarity International. The Canadian government's special envoy has dismissed CSI's claims of "slave redemption" as unbelievable. Anti-Slavery International has itself questioned several of CSI's claims. It is now clear that many "slave redemptions" are staged. Independent sources have stated that while some of those outside groups involved in these "redemptions" may have been innocently misled, other outside groups may be purposefully using "slave redemptions" in order to raise money for the SPLA.
As Anti-Slavery International will know, these "slave redemptions" fuel the Sudanese conflict in at least two ways. They echo inaccurate and stereotyped propaganda images of Sudan and the Sudanese conflict which serve only to misinform the international community, which in turn can distort positions taken by countries such as the United States. And, if what credible outside commentators have said is true, the money raised through fraudulent "slave redemptions" is actually used to procure weapons for the SPLA which are then used to prolong the war.
Anti-Slavery International has previously articulated concerns that claims made by Christian Solidarity International "distort reality" and that fuel "indiscriminate and wholly undeserved prejudice against Arabs and Muslims". It is clear that Christian Solidarity International continues to make these claims, that they have gained even more prominence within the United States and that such claims are fuelling an ill-informed anti-Sudanese frenzy in that country. Anti-Slavery International must have the courage to once again urge the international community to exercise the utmost caution in assessing claims made by groups such as Christian Solidarity International. (See references at bottom)
BlackElectorate.com's Interview With Charles Carlson of We Hold These Truths
Cedric Muhammad: What do you make of the sudden attention being given to the Sudan in the Western media?
Mr. Carlson: The attention given to Sudan by the American news media is not new, but it is accelerating. Its purpose is to discredit Sudan's government as repressive slave traders. The significance is that it shows that this large but poor country is much more important than most people think, for two reasons: The first and most obvious is a valuable, but little known, oil resource in Southern Sudan at a time when oil is dear. WHTT believes Sudan has a lot more oil than is generally acknowledged. This subject was covered in detail in our three-part series, "Oil For The Taking" (http://www.whtt.org/000914hu.htm). We find reason to believe the State of Israel may have designs on the Sudanese oil and is seeking to destroy the present government and divide off the oil-rich southern part of the country. The second and more significant reason Sudan is important is that its leadership seems to be accepted as a stabilizing influence by a growing number of its neighbors. We note that the African member of the UN General Assembly recently voted Sudan the representative of the African States as a member of the Security Council. In an unprecedented act, the will of the African States was vetoed by the USA. The members then voted Sudan on to the UN Human Rights Commission on May 3 of this year, and voted the USA off. This was a rare, secret protest vote where the members could show their sentiments without risking their foreign aid. Notwithstanding, the U.S. finances and controls all important decisions made in the UN, and do not like independent nations that show any sign of nationalism, as Sudan has done.
Cedric Muhammad: Do you believe that there is any credibility to the charges of slavery in the Sudan?
Mr. Carlson: We have found no convincing evidence of any traditional slavery in Sudan. There is a hostage-taking tradition among some tribes in the south, but there is no evidence the government of Sudan is involved. We have been looking since 1997, when we first learned the Clinton Administration was planning sanctions and was using as "slavery" as its big excuse. Slavery claims had been around during the first Bush administration and had the look of character assassination. We have evidence that the same charges were made against South Africa over 20 years ago in a brazen and false attempt to discredit it. We have examined allegations of slavery by interviewing people who claim to be slave buyers, and they are their own worst enemy…their stories do not hold water. We have also interviewed several respected Christian missionaries in Sudan who refute the slave buyers' tales, and their logic does hold water. Several of these interviews are detailed in Missionaries, Mercenaries, Missiles & Money The Untold Story of the War on the Children of Sudan (http://www.whtt.org/990927cc.htm).
Cedric Muhammad: How do these slave purchases work? How are they arranged?
Mr. Carlson: The procedure described to us by "slave" buyers invariably involve illegal entry into Sudan via air from a staging center in northern Kenya known as Lokichokio, where there is now a hard surface airport and storage facility. Mailorder Missionaries usually make their way to Lokichokio from Nairobi via a tramp airline that is transporting war material to the SPLA (Sudanese People's Liberation Army). From Lokichokio the MM's usually fly across the border in small chartered planes. Important groups involving public figures and US Congressman are often flown in by Christian Solidarity International in their executive plane. The so-called "slave" purchases are without exception reported to be made in remote villages in SPLA-held territory. Most of those who are ushered into Sudan to view slave purchases have no real idea where they are, or from whence the "Arab slave trader" come, or how they know there are buyers. We have been told time and time again that the "Arabs" seem to appear from nowhere with trains of tethered slaves in tow as soon as the money plane arrives. Onlookers state the "slaves are immediately released, and the "Arab" then disappears into the bush with the money. This leaves some obvious questions that are never answered: How does the slaver (the seller) know where he should be and when; how does he find so many slaves so fast; why is the price so low (a recent purchase of 1400 slaves was reported by one large fundraising group for the amazing price of $35.00 per head); and how does the "Arab" get out of the SPLA territory with all this money, and his life? A fifth obvious question any sensible person might ask is, could the "Arab" possibly be an SPLA agent dressed in a white turban? Is it possible the transactions are arranged by the SPLA with the knowledge of the kingpin slave buyer, Christian Solidarity International? Only this conclusion makes any sense.
Cedric Muhammad: What is the involvement of Christian Missionaries in the Sudan controversy?
Mr. Carlson: There are two answers to this question, because there are two distinctly different Christian missions in Sudan. Not all are slave-trading opportunists. We Hold These Truths has discovered hard-working traditional Christians carrying out their work all over Sudan with great dedication and sacrifice. These traditional Christians operate legally all over the country as respectful guests of the government (GOS) and never the rebel SPLA. Even though they have told us they are not always comfortable with the host government, they still follow the Apostle Paul's admonition to make themselves a part of the society they hope to evangelize. They also follow Jesus' admonition to "render unto Caesar what is Caesars' and unto God what is Gods." These legitimate missionaries operate churches and seminaries, translate and distribute Bibles and live with the Sudanese. Some, but not all, have testified to surprising cooperation and sympathy from the GOS. None have reported the atrocities or slavery the Western media and the Celebrity Christians tell us of. We refer to these traditionalists as Jesus-Christians, as opposed to Judeo-Christians. With their permission, WHTT plans to post a list of those we have met, but the list is a short one. One can quickly tell the difference between the Jesus-Christian missionaries and the Mailorder-Missioners by asking this question: "Do you have a visa and a stamped passport from the GOS?" This question separates the peacemakers from the Warmakers. In every case, the Jesus-Christians hold valid visas, enter Sudan legally and work in both the populated North and the sparse South. In contrast, those we call the Mailorder Missionaries and Celebrity Christians have, without exception, entered and operated in Sudan illegally. They do not apply for or obtain visas or passports there. They sneak into the country in the company of its warring enemies, and they often represent themselves as enemies of the GOS in their fundraising literature, and they lie about the Government. Most important from a Christian standpoint, they ignore all of the Biblical admonitions that Christ left behind to guide his disciples, such as those contained in the 10th Chapter of Romans, having to do with civil authority. The Mailorder Missionaries are in every conceivable way "ugly Americans." Knowingly or unknowingly, they are a part of the SPLA war against the people of Sudan. Even though some do not seem to realize it, they are Warmakers, funding a revolution with the money given by unsuspecting church goers. The names of many of these Mailorder Missionaries can be found in articles on our site by doing name searches; one such article is "Using Christians To Make War" (http://www.whtt.org/970825cc.htm).
Cedric Muhammad: What is the relationship between the SPLA and Christian Missionaries?
Mr. Carlson: We are told Mailorder Missionaries and their guests commonly share charter flights to Lokichokio with SPLA personnel and supplies. The "slave" buyers, photographers and witnesses always enter Sudan by sneaking across the border from Kenya without visa or custom approval from the GOS, instead obtaining passes from the SPLA's appointed provisional governor, who rules the captured land much as Israel rules the Golan Heights and occupied Palestine. His authority comes from the barrel of a gun. It is impossible to imagine that the SPLA is not involved in the transactions; there are many reports that suggest they are.
Cedric Muhammad: What is the role of Christian Solidarity International in all of this? How have they worked with media outlets and opinion leaders in America?
Mr. Carlson: Mailorder Missionaries appear to follow the aggressive lead of Christian Solidarity International, which appears to be the originator of the idea of 20th century slavery in Sudan. CSI provides wholesale, turnkey, buy and release slave purchases for many Celebrity Christians. It recently arranged a slave "redemption" for Coral Ridge Ministries involving a reported 1400 "slaves" for the puny sum of $50,000.00--only $35.00 each. One wonders where the 1400 slaves-the entire population of a dozen villages--came from. A picture of the transaction is shown on Coral Ridge's website, but We Hold These Truths has the same picture on a CSI letterhead that is several year old. CSI, which is a secretive Swiss-based corporation, gets amazing and unquestioned support from Israeli Patriots in the US press, such as A.M. Rosenthal of the New York Times, and in England. Many key(news) articles have been planted by CSI. It has also ushered tours of journalists and even Congressmen into Sudan to view slaves. Even visiting Congressmen, including Frank Wolf, have entered Sudan illegally, the practice being winked at by the US government. We believe Christian Solidarity International is "Christian" in name only. We are still waiting to meet a Jesus-Christian in the organization…in fact, its curious name ("Solidarity") seems more Bolshevik than Christian. Unlike the Mailorder Missionaries, CSI's motive does not appear to be money, and it never has appeared to worry about fundraising. Rather, it appears to be bent upon control of Sudan, probably for its well-healed client. You can bet American taxpayer money is indirectly financing CSI. Suggested reading: One Nation Under Israel (http://www.whtt.org/onui.htm) It appears CSI's first report condemning slavery in Sudan was ghost written for them by Yusen Bodansky, a former Israeli government arms salesman. In January 1994, while Director of the House Republican Research Committee Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, he wrote "Islam Against The Church". Amazingly, it was circulated exclusively by CSI, and though it was published on official US Congressional stationary over Bodansky's name. Even some members of Congress were denied access to this report. It is our studied belief that CSI runs the anti-Sudan campaign worldwide as an agent for some world power, and that would be either the USA or Israel, or both. Several reports detailing Bodansky can be found by searching our site for his name.
Cedric Muhammad: What would be Israel's interest in Sudan?
Mr. Carlson: Israel's logical interest is Sudan's is to eliminate another competitor in the Middle East and harvest its oil reserves. It wants Sudan destroyed for the same reason it wanted Iraq destroyed. Israel refuses to tell us this directly, but its body language is a dead give away. Ever since the Clinton Administration went public with its war on Sudan, staring with the sanctions and followed up by the bombing of the El Shifa plant, Israel has feigned indifference to Sudan. It even removed it from it official enemy list. To understand this technique one must consider Israel as an illegal 51st state, or a nuclear armed extension of the CIA. So Israeli is carrying out US Policy in the Middle East, not the other way around. The Clinton Administration helped Israel expand by attacking its enemy with missiles and economic sanctions. It all started in1993, if not before, and now it is reaching the crucial, survival stage. The proof that this is not just idle "conspiracy theory", as in the recent Mel Gibson TV movie by that name, is that George W. Bush has confirmed his involvement in the war on Sudan by announcing he is siding with the SPLA insurgents. He is committed to forcing Mr. Clinton's war in Sudan. Mr. Bush stated this to none other than the American Jewish Committee at a May 3 meeting. Now I ask you, who would expect the AJC and the President to talk about Sudan at such an important meeting? Why on earth would the American Jewish committee care about supposed Christian persecution in Sudan? Because Israel cares! This makes it important enough to be a main topic of a big time speech. Bush clearly promised this Israeli advocacy group he would go for the throat of Sudan. He appointed an Israeli patriot, Elliot Abrams, to head up the International Commission on Religious Freedom, an organization created around the idea of destroying Sudan. (Religious Freedom, http://www.whtt.org/97! 0825cc.htm)
Now there is a payoff in all of this for Israel. It gets rid of an enemy if they can help force Sudan under the US guillotine. Israel gets rid of another nationalistic, pro Palestinian neighbor. And don't forget all that oil. If southern Sudan is petitioned into north and south, as was Korea, Vietnam and Palestine, who will get dibs on those new, producing oil fields? If you think gas prices are high now, just wait until Israel gets control of the oil Middle East oil.
Cedric Muhammad: What do you think of the effort to link "slavery" in Sudan, with the slave experience in this country?
Mr. Carlson: It is a clever and devious image creator to bend the mind of every American who has ever studied the sin of slavery. One such promoter is the American Anti-Slavery Group, an apparent opportunistic spin off from Christian Solidarity International, run by a non-christian named Charles Jacobs. He has just started a new program called iAbolish in which Johnny Cochran and Ken Starr are fronting for an upcoming march led by "Escaped Slaves." Not only is this a flagrant distortion of fact in Sudan, it is designed to further divide Americans along racial lines by dredging up150 year old buried hatchets. Israeli Patriots are experts at this. They would like to create distrust and anger between the Black and White Americans in order to conquer both. Sadly, many well-intentioned Christians will be drawn by emotion into this fraud.
End of Interview With Mr. Carlson
In our estimation, not only is the research being conducted into the issue poor, sometimes deliberately so, but we also recognize the manner in which emotional arguments, backed by little reasoning, have prevailed. It is as if all one has to do is forcefully repeat the talking point phrase: "There is slavery in the Sudan" in order to be considered right. We have literally seen people mentally "bullied" into accepting that phrase as fact, in public and private forums. We have observed Black civil rights leaders shout down others who do not wish to disagree with them, but whom only seek to question the basis of those Black opinion leaders' point of view. At times it seems as if one is expected to accept the popular argument and ask questions later, or to not even ask at all. And even more cleverly, we have seen White conservatives boldly confront Blacks and question their commitment to their own people if they dared to question the truth of the allegations made regarding Sudan. Some have even made an attempt to use the controversy over "slavery" in the Sudan against Blacks who openly support the call for reparations for the slave experience in America..
But throughout all of this arguing little to no facts are generated that shed light on what is really going on in the Sudan.
We conclude with a look at what Minister Jabril Muhammad wrote in This Is The One about the type of arguing and fallacious reasoning that we are witnessing over the Sudan debate.
Fallacies in our thinking make our conclusions wrong. When we try to walk in the false light cast by incorrectness in our thinking, our line of reasoning, our beliefs, we can get ourselves into big trouble. Fallacies are dangerous. Why? Because they often appear as truth. They may seem reasonable when they are senseless. They frequently look right when they are wrong. They resemble sound thinking but are really unsound. Sometimes a speaker makes a point in such a way that one may be led to think he has supported his point with evidence, when he has not. Sometimes he will give a few examples, and from that speak of other things as though the few are typical of the rest. Sometimes he will make comparisons between things of which there are critical differences. Giving the impression that a minor relation between two things is bigger than it really is, and that this caused that, when it hasn't, are two often used fallacies. Taking what seems to be the sign of one thing to be the sign of something different is another instance of a fallacy. Another example involves being vague or using a word in a vital area that hides the true meaning. Using loaded language - emotional language - to establish a point for which the speaker has no proof, is another fallacious device. Name calling is an example of this. Some speakers simply avoid facts that have a direct bearing on a subject. On the other hand, he may bring in things that have no bearing on the issue. The reader may have seen speakers - especially preachers - repeat a thing over and over to try to win his point. But repetition is not proof of truth. Sheer noise is used by some. Personal attacks rather than attacks on what the other has to say, is still another device. Agreeing with another's conclusion while denying the base of that conclusion, even though it necessarily flows from the premise put forth by the other, is a fallacy. Playing on the imagination and feeling of the listeners by appealing to what may be popular is fallacious. Or, he may knock down an argument that the other has not put forth. Or, again, he may ask the other a loaded question: Have you stopped stealing yet? Have you stopped beating your wife?
We've seen speakers in debates take advantage of the fact that an audience, or most in the audience, may not have enough knowledge to see that one speaker may be taking advantage of the other, because of the lack of knowledge on the part of the audience on that subject. One man may say such and such can not be true because, "We have never heard of that before." For instance, uninformed people at one time said that the telephone was impractical because "we all know you can't talk over wires." Another example that used to cause those in the know a hard time was that knowledge of the atom was not widespread. So when talk of cracking the atom came up, people who were not in the know said, "Of course you can't crack an atom; how can you possibly crack something that you can't see?"
It is hard enough when the audience, or most of it, are not in the know on a subject. One of the speakers may have a hard time, though he may be very much in the know. This means he will have to work harder than the other. But when the other is also not in the know, then, we really have a problem.
Virtually all of what Minister Jabril Muhammad has written applies to the debate on the Sudan.
The question that we are asking is: when will those in Black leadership and those in the press corps, the supposed fourth estate, begin to take a critical look at what is happening in the Sudan and the motives of all parties involved?
And when will some in the American public and the Black electorate, in particular, stop accepting the arguments of those in the "anti-slavery in the Sudan" movement on face value?
It was so interesting to us, to learn on Friday that it has now been revealed that the US government, through some in the military industrial complex, is in fact, backing the SPLA in the Sudan.
We guess it should come as no surprise that the information was buried at the bottom of the mainstream media's news coverage and totally ignored by the Black press, Black opinion leaders and talk show hosts.
Notes for "AN OPEN LETTER TO ANTI-SLAVERY INTERNATIONAL"
1 See, for example, 'Five Thousand Sudanese Slaves "Freed"', News Article by BBC World Africa Online on 22 December 1999 at 18:24 GMT and 'Swiss NGO Buys Freedom for 4,000 Sudanese Slaves', News Article by Agence France Presse on 1 February 2000.
2 See, for example, 'Jackson to Tackle Child Slavery', News Article by BBC News Online on 20 April 2001, at 10:57 GMT.
3 'Rev. Al Has No Bravery on Slavery', 'The New York Times', 24 April 2001.
4 'Sudan Protest Makes Odd Bedfellows', 'The Washington Post', 30 April 2001.
5 'Christian Right Might Inflame War, Observers Fear', Africanews, Issue 62, May 2001. It should be noted that Africanews describes itself as "the initiative of a group of lay Christians...AFRICANEWS editorial staff wants to prove that the media can be used to promote peace and solidarity. In particular, AFRICANEWS expresses its preferential option for the poor. All news and their analysis will be given from the perspective of the African grassroot people, their struggle for freedom, dignity and justice." 'AFRICANEWS: News and Views From Africa' at http://www.peacelink.it/amani/afrinews_eng.html
6 Peter Verney, 'Slavery in Sudan', Sudan Update and Anti-Slavery International, London, May 1997.
7 Alex de Waal, 'Sudan: Social Engineering, Slavery and War', 'Covert Action Quarterly', Spring 1997.
8 The reference number of this submission to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights is TS/S/4/97, and is available to view on the Anti-Slavery International web-site at http://www.charitynet.org/asi/sub mit5.htm
9 John Harker, 'Human Security in Sudan: The Report of a Canadian Assessment Mission', Prepared for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ottawa, January 2000, p. 1.
10 Ibid., pp.39-40.
11 Alex de Waal, 'Exploiting Slavery: Human Rights and Political Agendas in Sudan', 'New Left Review', (London), Number 227, 1998, p.145.
12 'Aid group tries to break Sudan slavery chain', News Article by Reuters on July 11, 1999 at 23:40:58.
13 "Slave 'Redemption' won't save Sudan", 'Christian Science Monitor', 26 May 1999.
Sunday, May 27, 2001