UNITED NATIONS – The media have been preoccupied with the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of slavery that cannot be tolerated. Politicians of both parties have been quick to jump on the bandwagon and stuff the offending piece of cloth down the memory hole.

Once again, image has triumphed over substance.

As politicians pose as the Great Emancipator for purging the Confederate battle flag from TV reruns, real slavery thrives in the world today.

The Muslim nation of Malaysia in Southeast Asia is notorious for its slave trade. It’s estimated that Malaysia has 2 million illegal migrant workers. These workers are routinely kidnapped, held against their will, sold and used as slaves on plantations and in garment and electronics factories. Women are turned into sex slaves.

Just two months ago, police found mass graves inside Malaysia containing 139 migrant workers who had been trafficked or held for ransom.

The U.S. State Department’s annual human rights reports ranks Malaysia as one of the worst places on earth for slavery, a so-called Tier 3 country, in the same category as Zimbabwe and North Korea.

According to the State Department, the situation in Malaysia is getting worse. It reported 89 human-trafficking investigations in the year ending March 2014 – fewer than half the number of investigations done the previous year. Convictions dropped from 21 to nine.

The US ambassador to Malaysia has publicly criticized its government for not doing more to combat human trafficking.

Malaysia poses a problem for President Obama and his corporatist allies. Fast track legislation approved by Congress to expedite the Trans-Pacific Partnership says the U.S. cannot conclude a trade deal with slave states.

So does the president obey the law he signed by tossing Malaysia from the list of most favored nations? Does he somehow make the Muslim rulers of Malaysia crack down on slavery? No.

Instead, Obama plays golf with the Malaysian prime minister in Hawaii and has the State Department rewrite its human rights report to say Malaysia doesn’t really have such a bad slavery problem after all.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who pushed the ban on slave states, calls this manipulation of the record “a perversion” and an “incredibly dangerous proposition as it relates to our ability to promote our efforts globally against human trafficking.”

The shenanigans began in June, when the State Department was expected to release its report. But that didn’t happen while Congress debated fast track. It’s revealing that an interim report delivered to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March did not include Malaysia on the list of countries that had improved.

While the president would distort the official record to suit his political goals, the country club Republicans running the GOP are so desperate to please the donor class of Wall Street and K Street they would betray their heritage of defending free labor against slave labor.

The stark reality is Obamatrade uses slaves on the other side of the world to put free Americans out of work.

While President Obama calls the removal of the Confederate flag “a meaningful step toward a better future,” it’s shocking the first African-American president would trade in the sweat of slaves. It’s just as shocking that he does it with the active connivance of the Party of Lincoln.

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