Hi! I haven’t read any of those arguments in probably the better part of a year now, so I can’t address any specifics of others’ arguments but, over the course of fandom, I’ve found a lot of it comes down to a misunderstanding of how the Jedi work and even once fandom talked a bit more about that, initial impressions remain.
When I first got back into Star Wars, I just assumed the Jedi were autonomous–they were running around on these missions, consulting with the Jedi High Council, they obviously had legal authority, so they were totally under their own control. And so they must have chose not to help the slaves of Tatooine!
But as I actually paid attention to the context that was in amongst the awesome lightsaber battles, it became clearer that, no, the Jedi were not autonomous or their own bosses. They were under the jurisdiction of the Senate. They didn’t just go decide to help Naboo, Chancellor Vallorum sent them. Sifo-Diyas didn’t just decide to go purchase a bunch of clones (where would he get the money for that??? and why would Sidious then know about them and have them in his plans, because the chips were a big part of his plan). They very much didn’t want to have Palpatine put an unready member on their Council, but he insisted and they couldn’t refuse.
The Jedi had authority to handle things on missions as they saw fit, but they were absolutely under the authority of the Senate. They had some minor ability to say, “No, this is a Jedi thing, we’ll handle this internally.” like when Cad Bane stole their holocron, but even then that was increasingly rare that Palpatine wasn’t pushing for them to report to him on it, to let the Senate take over, as Anakin argued that they still had to report this.
But the impression of the Jedi being able to do whatever they want–so if they didn’t, they must be choosing not to–lingered.
There’s also the REALLY IMPORTANT CONTEXT of what they’re there on Tatooine for, it’s not just a fun side-trip for them, they are trying to save the people of Naboo. Millions of people are being oppressed by the Trade Federation, being put into camps and a lot of them are dying. Was Qui-Gon just supposed to go, “Yeah, fuck the people of Naboo, my actual duty, because I saw a shiny new thing.”?
And further important context–Tatooine is not in the Republic, the Jedi DO NOT HAVE AUTHORITY THERE. It’s a lawless place (because Hutts seem to just do whatever they want there?), so they could probably get away with a certain amount of doing Whatever, but they didn’t have the authority to just jaunt over there whenever they wanted. That was down to the Senate to decide whether or not to go into Hutt space to help them. And the Senate clearly didn’t give a shit.
We know that the Jedi were very much against slavery–the whole thing about the Zygerrians wanting to join the CIS was because the Jedi had destroyed their slave empire, pushed them back into the fringes by liberating those slaves. In one of the Clone Wars guidebooks, Kit Fisto is described as, “among the Order’s fiercest fighters, a veteran of many campaigns against pirates, slavers, and other evildoers.“, that he’s the bane of many of their existence.
But those are within their area of authority, when they’re allowed to do something about it.
In contrast, because we’re often primed to see action fights as the authority, we forget that politics is where the real power often lies. And Padme isn’t a type of character who is known for that (oh, she definitely knows her way around a blaster! but that’s not her primary focus), but instead for speeches and politics. We forget that, as a Senator, she has far more power than a Jedi does.
And it’s easy to look at Padme fighting against the corruption of the Senate and forget that she’s incredibly influential, that she can swing a vote because she talked to enough people to get them to not buy more clone slaves because it was going to bankrupt them. Because she cares, because she’s a kind person, we forget that she doesn’t say a word about the slavery on Tatooine once she gets back to the Republic, that she doesn’t hire a bounty hunter (as she would have the money to do so, where a Jedi is funded by the Senate) to go free the slaves, that she doesn’t even say anything about the Republic buying people in her big speech about how it’s making the Republic poor to buy all these clones.
Is it down to Padme to change the entire galaxy? Of course not! It’s not down to any one person. And she has a hundred other things on her plate that are about saving lives and helping people, too! Not just her planet, but the entire Republic. But she is part of the group that has the power in the galaxy and we never see her using it the way she could–perhaps she does off-screen? We don’t know! She’s not a Senator until AOTC (we don’t know precisely when she became a Senator, only that it was sometime between TPM and AOTC), as Queen of Naboo, she would only have had the chance to plead that case to the Senate (or just hire someone on the side) but she was pretty busy trying to save her people during that, too! Padme had a lot of stuff going on and she couldn’t just say, “Fuck the people I’m responsible for, they don’t matter.” when their lives were at stake.
And, yeah, Qui-Gon has time to free Anakin, but that’s because he was doing it as part of the plan to get them off Tatooine. If Qui-Gon could have bet all the slaves or even taken five minutes to save them, of course he would have! He certainly wanted to free Shmi as well, but that was never going to work and he didn’t have five minutes, with Naboo hanging in the balance and a Sith Lord breathing down his neck.
All of this isn’t an excuse to say, oh, well, slavery happens, it’s fine! Because it’s not, it’s awful! Trying to say that’s what I’m getting at would be twisting my words–instead this is an attempt to look at the actual political set-up of the GFFA, why various people were in the positions they were in and how that did or didn’t hold them back. We don’t know how much anyone campaigned for the Senate to do something about Tatooine in between TPM and AOTC, we only know that nothing seemed to get done outside of the Republic’s borders and that the Senate was an incredibly corrupt body of government.
The whole entire thing is a shitty situation for everyone and it’s the slaves who get hurt the most by the way the politics are set up to never actually help them.