Would you intentionally buy products made with slave labor?

Would you intentionally buy products knowing that innocent men, women and children are dying to make them?

That’s what each of us does when we buy fireworks made in China. Ironically, we do this each year to celebrate our own freedom.

Every year in late June and early July – at least in areas where selling fireworks is still legal – groups like churches, service clubs, schools, etc. raise money by selling fireworks to the public.

Annual sales in the U.S. are approaching $1 billion.

Yet these products are manufactured in many cases with forced labor – even child labor – under the most unsafe and inhumane conditions.

In March 2001, 42 people – most of them third- and fourth-graders – lost their lives in an explosion at a school. Why did the school blow up? Because the Chinese government uses young students to make fireworks. That’s how the Chinese keep the prices so low. The younger students are required to assemble at least 1,000 fireworks a day. The older children – fifth-graders – are required to make 10 times that many.

The money goes not to the students, but into the pockets of government school officials and teachers.

You might think products made with slave labor would be blocked from entry into this country. You might think the U.S. government would take a stand against such an abuse. You might think our State Department and Labor Department would do something about this atrocity.

Yet, after two years of failing to investigate that fatal explosion at a forced child-labor fireworks factory in a Chinese elementary school for violation of U.S. labor laws, the State Department and Labor Department have accepted the Chinese government’s stonewalling and closed the case.

We know this because of the intrepid work by State Department Watch, an organization run by Carl Olson.

Accepting Chinese government denials of forced child labor without interviewing any of the victims, school officials or news media marks a betrayal instead of promoting human rights for Chinese workers and protecting the American public from slave-labor competition,” he said. “Congress should investigate how the State Department and Labor Department sat on their hands for two years instead of seeking out the truth.”

U.S. law does indeed require the federal government to refuse to buy goods made by forced child labor abroad. But the government is not doing anything about this – so it’s up to you.

How can this nation celebrate its independence every year by supporting the evil empire in Beijing? When you buy fireworks made in China, you are helping the Beijing regime rake in millions on the backs of slave laborers, political prisoners and badly exploited peasants – people who have no choice, no freedom, no independence, no say.

How ironic. How sad. How tragic.

It’s true, though, that every single fireworks package I see – at least those available to ordinary consumers – is marked “made in China.” While there may be alternatives, I have never seen any.

We’ve just finished celebrating another Independence Day in America. It may seem like a bad time to talk about boycotting fireworks next year. But this is the time of year when plans are being made by businesses and charitable groups for raising money through the sale of fireworks. Let’s say no to distributing Chinese-made fireworks in the U.S. Let’s celebrate Independence Day by supporting independence and freedom throughout the world – including China.

While we’re at it, we ought to boycott Chinese-made goods in general. But that is getting more difficult all the time. It seems almost all the cheap goods being sold in retail outlets throughout the U.S. are made in China.

Contemporary China is the very antithesis of everything for which the Founding Fathers fought and died. Religious persecution worse than any they ever experienced or imagined 226 years ago is taking place today in this “enlightened” age in modern China. The slavery they wrestled with so long ago and we as a nation shed so much blood over and abolished more than 130 years ago still persists in China. Grotesque human-rights abuses – including forced abortions and severe state-imposed limitations on childbirth – are a way of life in China. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are unheard of in today’s China.

Has America sold its very soul?

Maybe it’s not a big step – a dramatic step – but I think it’s time to start reclaiming our national soul. A good first step would be for businesses and charitable organizations across America to swear off the sales of Chinese-made fireworks this summer.

Are you with me?

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