Thursday, February 19, 2004

Human Scum

You know, I thought Nick Kristof was just lazy and ill-informed. But, after reading this Katha Pollitt column I realize he's also dishonest.

Just for fun, I called Kim Gandy, head of NOW, something Kristof forgot to do. "We're basically a national organization with a domestic agenda," she told me. "I mean, that's what our mission is. If we had more money, we could do a lot more." Still, NOW had, along with Equality Now, Feminist Majority and other groups, lobbied for passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, passed in 2000 under President Clinton, which established legal rights for trafficking victims in the United States and mandated cuts in aid to governments involved in the sex trade. Over at Feminist Majority, Ellie Smeal was peeved as well. They'd spent hours, she told me, informing Kristof's assistant about their organization's work on sex trafficking--beyond lobbying for the trafficking bill, the Feminist Majority's Center for Women and Policing holds regular conferences on implementation for law-enforcement officials. "You could say that on every issue, we could do more," she said. "But 'complacent?' 'Shamefully lackadaisical?' I don't think that's fair." Jessica Neuwirth and Taina Bien-Aimé of Equality Now also met with Kristof, to little avail. "It's great that he brought the issue to greater public attention, and we hope he'll stay with it," Neuwirth said. "But I don't think he appreciates how stretched women's organizations are."

You can see the narrative in the process of creation: Third World women are victims; American men are saviors. Right-wing Christians care about Third World women; feminists only care about themselves. Meanwhile, Equality Now fights the good fight on 'spit and a nickel,' as Bien-Aimé says, and gets ignored.

As my daughter used to say when she was small, "What do you have to do to get some attention around here?" You can send a donation to Equality Now at PO Box 20646, Columbus Circle Station, New York, NY 10023;

...Kristof has a real whiny response to Pollitt. One question - did anyone see the Charlie Rose recently when Kristof was on? A couple of people told me that Rose got Kristof to admit that one of the girls he "saved" went back to the brothel. Can anyone confirm this? If so, it sure does make his response look double-plus-ungood. (NOTE: I'm not claiming that's true - I don't know - just that I had been informed of that.)

...sorry, duh, Kristof himself wrote that one of the girls returned in his 1/28/04 column. But, then, in a later column said she had returned to her mother.