They came upon a circle of nomads
Camped far from the lights of the town
Blue men with scars and malarial eyes
And teeth that were pointed… filed down
He said: “These are the people I’ve been searching for,
This is more than I ever could have hoped!”
As they threw him down on a blanket
And tied him up with a hand‐braided rope
They cut out his tongue and blinded his eyes
With coals from a cous‐cous fire
Tied empty tin cans to his arms and his legs
That rattled on long copper wires
Now he’s forgotten his name and why he came to the desert
As they lead him through oasis and town
And the people stare, throw coins and laugh wildly
At the Blue Men and their white dancing clown.
— “Blood Oranges” Tom Russell
“The freedom of birds is an insult to me. I’d have them all in zoos.”
— The Judge in “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy
Rullman and I independently hit upon the badger as a kind of spirit animal. Perhaps Badger ought to be the mascot of RIR. Badger doesn’t go looking for trouble, but if you stick your arm down his hole, you’re going to pull back a stump. There’s something admirable in that, don’t you think?
Why would anybody stick their arm down a badger’s hole? Good question. Why would 26‐year‐old American John Allen Chau decide that he simply MUST visit the most remote, uncontacted people on the planet — tribesmen noted for greeting anybody who tries to visit their island with a shower of arrows?
An American man described in local media as either an adventure tourist or a Christian missionary has been killed by tribesman on North Sentinel Island, Indian police said Wednesday (November 21). As of nightfall, they were still trying to recover his body. A homicide case is pending.
Seven local fishermen have been arrested and accused of facilitating the man’s trip, police said.
North Sentinel is part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, an Indian archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, hundreds of miles off mainland India’s southeastern coast. The Indian government restricts tourist travel to some of the islands.
… (The Sentinelese) are hunter‐gatherers who live on a remote, forested island in the Indian Ocean. They do not use money. They resist contact with the outside world — and have been known to sling arrows at outsiders who approach their shores.
And from CNN:
It’s believed the Sentinelese killed Chau after he asked a local friend to find a boat and several fishermen to help him get closer to the prohibited island.From the boat, the fishermen said Chau used a canoe to reach the shore on November 16. He returned with arrow injuries the same day, but set off once again to reach the island on November 17 and never returned. The fisherman later saw members of the tribe dragging his body around, authorities said.Chau knew the island was a restricted area and his mission there was illegal, according to a friend, John Middleton Ramsey.Chau had made a scouting trip to the remote island chain several years ago, and when he returned, Ramsey recalled Chau talked about his plans to go back to the island bearing gifts for the Sentinelese people.He said he wanted to get to know the islanders’ way of life, eventually share the Gospel and perhaps translate the Bible, Ramsey recalled.
I can’t say I’m sorry for this guy. When people make it clear that they just want to be left alone, the right thing — the smart thing — to do is to leave them alone. Reminds me of a party I went to in college where some guy had a completely unprovoked problem with my hat. He walked by and batted the brim. I told him not to do that. He did it again. I told him that if he did that one more time, I would punch him in the face. He did it again and I punched him in the face. He lay there on the floor whining, “You hit me!”
Thing is, there are a whole lot of people in the world who just can’t leave Badger alone. They MUST stick their arm down his hole; it’s a compulsion, or a mission from God. Badger — or any creature — left alone is an affront to their sense of order and propriety in the universe. They are insulted by the freedom of birds.
I find this strange, but then I have little of the proselytizer in me. In fact, proselytizers of any stripe set my teeth on edge. And there are many, many stripes to be found. The Abrahamic religions are proselytizing faiths — it’s the duty of a Christian or Muslim to convert others. (Interestingly, the original is NOT a proselytizing faith).
But religion has no corner on the proselytizing racket. Marxism was the great proselytizing faith of the 20th Century, and it seems to be making a comeback. It’s not enough for adherents of the faith to believe that they’ve found the path to utopia, they must convince thee and me that this is the True Path. And if we cannot be convinced, the Way must be imposed upon us. For our own good, of course.
The True Followers of the God of the Market are also proselytizers, though perhaps of a subtler (and more insidious) stripe. They offer a sip from the grail of greater and greater ease and convenience, and pay no mind to the cost…
There are proselytizers in every city and every town, including our own, who have found a way of life they wish to pursue — and because it is a good way of life, and a righteous one, everybody else should abandon their old ways and pursue it, too. They, of course, would not recognize themselves in this description, and would be outraged by it — but it is nonetheless true.
And this is a problem, because it may be that, down deep, the most earnest and well‐meaning among them find our freedom insulting and would have us all in zoos.
So… I cannot look upon the fate of the young American proselytizer on Sentinel Island with much dismay. It is sad, like a young man losing his life by driving way too fast is sad. But I can’t help feeling at least a sense of recognition in the Sentinelese. They know the zoo is out there, and they’re not having it. They have struck a blow for the freedom of birds. And for Badger.
Leave ’em the hell alone.