LONSBERRY: Robert Kraft Isn't the Point

Robert Kraft is meaningless.

He’s a fat, old, rich guy who is going to be dead in a handful of years. One more john, picked out of the obscurity of tens of thousands of other such arrestees by the fact he has hoisted the Lombardi Trophy a few times.

               But in the Age of Rage, in which the response to every question is to flame someone or some type of someones, anger at him is righteousness in one cause or another.

               But he is meaningless.

               The issue, however – the sexual slavery of people in this country – is huge, and it is close at home, and demands to be recognized and attacked.

               Jupiter, Florida, is a long way from upstate New York, but the evil in which Robert Kraft was involved exists as assuredly in the strip malls of upstate New York as it does anywhere in the country. That makes this not about hating him, but about fixing us. The victims of human sex trafficking are not just in distant Florida, they are here, where we live, needing our help.

               Here’s how it works.

               There are criminal Chinese syndicates called “snakeheads,” which bring impoverished Chinese people into the United States essentially as indentured servants.

In the early years of American settlement, poor people from England, Scotland and Ireland promised to work a certain number of years in the New World – usually seven – in exchange for someone paying their way to America. For those seven years they labored – typically without pay or rights – to settle their debt. It was a practice that seems, to our modern sensitivities, barbaric.

And it is paralleled today in the bondage of the snakeheads, who typically offer two deals to people. They can work seven years in food service – usually every day, usually 12 to 16 hours a day – in exchange for their passage to America, or they can work in the massage parlors.

Though the restaurant indenture is in dramatic violation of American beliefs in workplace rights, the sexual indenture of the massage parlors is almost too horrific for us to grasp. The women who end up in the massage parlors are obligated to two or three years to live and work as sex slaves – all day, every day.

Usually, young people go to the restaurants, as they are able to endure the incredible burden of that work, and middle-aged women – mothers and grandmothers – go to the massage parlors.

This is America today. This is happening in our towns.

We may realize nothing of it. Perhaps we notice some place with an Asian name offering massage in the plaza where we shop. Perhaps we see the police have made a prostitution arrest at a massage parlor, and the women have Chinese names and are in their 40s or 50s.

This is New York today. This is happening in our towns.

And, inexplicably, we are not at war against it.

But we must be.

This entire practice is evil and wrong, and completely in conflict with what America is about. Our institutions, our press, our churches, our activists must step up and step in.

Every sheriff in New York should know of and find a reason to visit places in his county where Chinese indenture may be at play. Every police chief must put the massage parlors on his radar screen, seeing the women not as prostitutes to be arrested, but victims to be rescued. The governor should deploy the resources of the state – from the Troopers to the labor department – to bust up the sexual indenture and bring the restaurant indenture into compliance with our workplace laws.

Federal officials – who are well aware of this evil – must decidedly act against it. The withholding of another person’s immigration documents – which the snakeheads do – is against immigration law, and ought to draw the ire of the Border Patrol and ICE. Every United States attorney should have a working group or task force that specifically focuses on sexual indenture.

The women in the massage parlors have no homes, no money, no ability to be independent. Churches and others must be prepared to offer them homes and stability, a place to get their bearings in this new country without being preyed upon by monsters.

And the news media must tell this story, over and over. It’s not enough to do a news brief about a prostitution raid catching some Chinese ladies, or to flame men on social media, if the light of truth is the best disinfectant, then some light needs to be shined by the news media.

And maybe the pro-life and pro-choice people could take a day and do some marching together – in front of a massage parlor, to call it out.

The purpose is not primarily to shut down, it is to rescue. The women need to be saved, and then the parlors can be shut down. The women need to be removed from the clutches of the snakeheads before they are simply moved to another jurisdiction less vigilant in their defense.

Perhaps the state labor department could certify restaurants in compliance with labor laws and people could take their business to places so certified.

There are various types of prostitution, all of them are sad and exploitative, and involve some sort of slavery. To drugs, to violent pimps, or to the snakeheads. We may never end them, but we must always fight them.

And we can no longer turn an ignorant eye to the evil of sexual indenture. It is in our area, it is a horrible evil, and it is time to stop it.

We would want someone to rescue us. We must rescue these women.


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