Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Viking’s Adrian Peterson Doesn’t Know the First Thing about “Modern Day Slavery”

Let’s cut to the chase: Minnesota Viking’s running back Adrian Peterson should be ashamed of himself.

Like many other NFL players, he isn’t happy about team owners trying to take a larger cut of overall profits. He may have good cause to feel the way he does or he might be wrong; I don’t know enough about the situation to take sides or point fingers either way.

But what should be painfully obvious is that somebody scheduled to make $10.72 million in base salary this year shouldn’t be comparing his situation to “modern day slavery.”

I would urge Mr. Peterson to pick up books like Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” before he opens his mouth on the subject he thinks he knows something about.

He should read up on how in Asia and India, 13-year old little girls are kept in brothels, their virginity sold to the highest bidders regardless of how much they beg for mercy. He should consider Johann Hari’s account of Dubai, where “The people who really built the city can be seen in long chain-gangs by the side of the road, or toiling all day at the top of the tallest buildings in the world, in heat that Westerners are told not to stay in for more than 10 minutes. They were conned into coming, and trapped into staying.”

Is that the “modern day slavery” Peterson is referring to? Because it’s still a very real problem that plagues countless very real men, women and children today.

Adrian Peterson Should Use His Million Plus to Buy a Solid Reality Check

Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, tried to stem criticism by explaining that: “The game means an awful lot to him. People should not just take his statements per se word by word.”

I can understand, accept and even respect that Peterson takes his career seriously. But when he compares his salary complaints to people who get no pay and no rights even to their own bodies, that’s unacceptable. Words mean something, and a problem as horrific as slavery should not be so lightly played with.

Of course, Peterson is not the first person to twist the issue of slavery to elicit an emotional response. And sadly, he won’t be the last one either.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t condemn such examples as dangerously and unfeelingly egocentric when they occur. And it doesn’t mean we – especially in amazingly privileged America – shouldn’t educate ourselves about real suffering before we open our mouths and disrespect people who have already lost so much.

End of story.

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