TURES COLUMN: ‘The Sound of Freedom’ In Florida

Published 9:30 am Saturday, August 5, 2023

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In the hit movie “The Sound of Freedom,” former Federal Agent Tim Ballard was asked why he’s trying to rescue kids from human trafficking. “Cause God’s children are not for sale,” Ballard replies. It turns out that child trafficking has gone on much further back in history, before Ballard’s time.  It can even be traced back to the times before the Civil War. Yet some would have us believe that there was some value to child trafficking (slavery) back in those days, and how it is taught in school today, now a point of contention even in the 2024 presidential election.

Thankfully, modern-day children in Florida are taught that child trafficking practices in the early to mid-1800s were generally a bad policy. But it turns out the middle school kids in the Sunshine State are about to get a new lesson on child trafficking of the past in the South.

“The controversial part is in this ‘benchmark clarification’ about slave labor: ‘Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit’” writes PolitiFact, published by the Poynter Institute.

I doubt any filmgoer watching that successful Christian film “The Sound of Freedom” would conclude that kids who were victims of child trafficking today could develop skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit, any more than they would get from slavery in the 1800s.

Since slavery, as well as child trafficking, is typically for life, except for a lucky few who were freed or able to escape, it is hard to think of how such skills would be of much personal benefit, especially due to the lack of compensation for one’s labors. And “the Tampa Bay Times found that some of the people listed by the working group were not enslaved when they developed these skills or were freed at a young age. For example, Booker T. Washington, who was enslaved until he was 9, worked in mines and as a houseboy before entering school and later becoming a teacher,” writes PolitiFact.  I doubt Booker T. Washington was the only child trafficking victim.

The issue of child trafficking in the past has even made its way into presidential politics in the 2024 election. Several candidates for President, as well as members of Congress, have been critical of the practices of slavery back then, what we would call child trafficking today. These include South Carolina GOP Senator Tim Scott, a Presidential candidate, as well as former Congressman Will Hurd of Texas.  You also have Byron Donalds, a MAGA Congressman for Florida, as well as Representative John James of Michigan, all of who slammed the educational curriculum that tries to note some possible benefits of such practices.

As Senator Scott said “‘Slavery was really about separating families, about mutilating humans and even raping their wives. It was just devastating,’ he added.  ‘Slavery has no redeeming benefit, no redeeming value. There’s no silver lining in slavery,’ he told the podcast. ‘The fact is very clear that what slavery was about was the antithetical to who we are as Americans. We founded this nation upon the notion of freedom. Slavery is the deprivation of freedom.’”  

Yet he and other Republicans on this list were criticized for speaking out against such practices.

You could say the same thing about child trafficking as you would about slavery. In fact, there’s evidence that children were dragged away from their parents, at slave auctions, with families never to see each other again. Who knows what horrors and indignities they faced in those days of child trafficking. Let’s do our best to stop child trafficking today, and not make the same mistakes about it as we did in the past about slavery.