The Rev. Al Sharpton is using the recent discovery that his ancestor was a slave of a distant relative of the late Strom Thurmond for all the ink he can get. It’s interesting, I suppose, but does it really reveal anything new?

Mona Charen comments:

“No, you can’t wish it away, but it is possible to dwell on it overmuch, as I believe we do in this country. To judge by what my children are learning in school, you’d think American history was 75 percent slavery and 25 percent everything else (and that 25 percent includes a large dollop of imperialism, racism, sexism and homophobia, leaving little time for Lincoln, Edison, Clay, Holmes, Alcott, Dickinson, Addams, Longfellow or Fulton).

“If Sharpton has not really understood slavery until now, then he has a peculiarly feeble imagination. Is it possible to live in 2007 America and not have thought about what life must have been like for black slaves? Is he kidding? This from a self-described ‘civil rights leader’?”

Charen further asks why Sharpton, wallowing in the new revelation, can’t focus on the slavery that hasn’t been eliminated:

“The U.S. Department of State recently released a report on human trafficking. ‘As unimaginable as it seems,’ begins the report, ‘slavery and bondage still persist in the early 21st century. Millions of people around the world still suffer in silence in slave-like situations of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation from which they cannot free themselves. Trafficking in persons is one of the greatest human rights challenges of our time.’

“Each year, an estimated 600,000-800,000 men, women and children are trafficked against their will across international borders. According to the White House, 14,500-17,500 of these are trafficked into the United States. Some are forced to work in sweatshops and farms, but most are domestic workers and prostitutes. A typical case is that of ‘Maria,’ a Guatemalan who was lured to the U.S. by a ‘coyote’ when she was 12. Once in Florida, she was raped and forced to submit to prostitution. She did not speak the language and was threatened with violence if she attempted to escape.”