Unless you’ve been avoiding all media—we totally wouldn’t blame you—you’ve probably heard about missionary John Chau and his failed attempt to force Christianity onto the Sentinelese people while breaking several Indian laws in the process.
The tribe is considered one of the last uncontacted tribes in the world—and they like it that way.
Chau’s death served to highlight—once again—why there are laws and regulations in place regarding them. They do not want contact with the outside world and attempted contact is dangerous for everyone involved.
Even if Chau had succeeded in touching base with them, he could not communicate with them and would have exposed the tribe to many germs they have no resistance to. Most people agree that respecting the people of Sentinel Island’s wishes and protecting them by leaving them alone is the best bet.
And then there’s this guy.
The whole "uncontacted tribe" thing is bizarre. Governments are basically preserving human beings like museum exhibits. Don't these people have a right to know that modern society exists? Do you think they really enjoy dying of diseases we can cure with antibiotics?— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) November 21, 2018
By not contacting primitive tribes, we are deciding for them that they're better off without: air conditioning, modern medicine, refrigeration, electricity, telephones, toothpaste, shoes, eyeglasses, etc. Would any of us like to live without those things?— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) November 21, 2018
Conservative pundit and writer Matt Walsh argues that governments should be contacting these tribes even though they’ve shown us repeatedly that they do not want contact with the world outside of their island.
According to him, it is unkind to NOT contact them because we’re not even giving them the chance to enjoy modern advances like air conditioning and phones and “antibiotics.” People were pretty quick to point out that half the diseases we need medicines for don’t exist in these populations because of their isolation.
And there is no way to know if the Sentinelese people—the Indian government’s name for them—do or do not have antibiotics. Many things in the natural world have antibiotic properties and were part of traditional medicine.
People read Matt’s tweets and responded with a resounding:
Nobody held back.
The only reason they've never been invaded is (1) the geography of the island makes it hard to get big ships close and...— Greg Stolze (@GregStolze) November 23, 2018
If they'd been accessible, the island would be abandoned now: During the slaving era, anyone worth kidnapping would've been taken and the rest would probably have died of foreign diseases.— Greg Stolze (@GregStolze) November 23, 2018
In conclusion, "YOU don't know what's good for you, let ME tell you" is an attitude that makes nearly anyone want to put a pointy stick in somebody.— Greg Stolze (@GregStolze) November 23, 2018
I think that they made their wishes known by shooting arrows at people— Hershell Bryant (@Hershell_Bryant) November 23, 2018
they do not need an intervention by human beings - you do
Hey, settler. You do realize that they aren’t “uncontacted”, right? They have been in contact with societies other than their own for a loooooong time. They have chosen to keep colonizers out. Deal with it.— Roo (@DeLesslin) November 22, 2018
They know other people exist Matt, they've shown they want nothing to do with us by shooting at anyone trying to make contact. Don't they have a right to be left the fuck alone?— Unironic Posadist Shia LaBeouf (@realhnewhouse) November 23, 2018
No because our very presence is enough to kill them. The diseases already on the island would be fairly well understood and their immune systems are adapted to them. Trying to bring people in to explain thousands of years of things they dont want would only expose them to disease— Zero Anonymity (@WiredInZero) November 23, 2018
Dude, they know that crazy shit is out there. That’s why they shoot arrows at anyone who comes near. They’ve seen ships and planes and modern folks and they want no part of it. Let them be— Riot Mom (@the_XXXfiles) November 23, 2018
Govts aren't preserving them, they're respecting them. If you'd look at history, the Andaman tribes who settlers forced themselves on are the ones with the worst health and conditions. Your thinking is the same that ravaged my ancestors in the name of "bringing civilization"— ᏖᏗ ᎨᏯᏔᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏢᏉᏗ (@HereticNoir) November 23, 2018
Breaking the law of another country is not okay, and no amount of shit you write can justify it. He broke the law and paid for it, albeit unfortunately. I'm sure you wouldn't want others landing up at Guam or American Samoa, breaking laws to evangelise the locals right?— Surya Sanjay 🇮🇳 (@suryasanjay24) November 23, 2018
here's a hint: the sentinelese have had contact multiple times, including when a cargo ship beached on their island and the crew evacuated, and decided they were better off without it— fuckiest of nuggets (@atomicthumbs) November 23, 2018
Also contact with foreigners usually wipes out native people as they take their land and its resources and force them into slavery and spread diseases. Leave the natives alone. They have been living for centuries without our help, they’ll develop at their own pace and be okay.— Summerana🇯🇲 (@Vonshaaa) November 22, 2018
— Survival International (@Survival) December 1, 2018
👇 this is the headline that media should have gone with instead of “hostile natives” & “gentle missionary” https://t.co/Hb5KgdzsKn
— Chirag Wakaskar (@chiragwakaskar) November 26, 2018
Most racist coverage was @washingtonpost AND none of the western outlets found it wise to hire a person of color or native american who would really understand Settler colonialism and write the story from perspective of the Sentinelese people.
— Chirag Wakaskar (@chiragwakaskar) November 26, 2018
Oh this story gets even better. The “missionary” who was killed by the Sentinelese lied about being a missionary. He was actually an “adventure blogger” (read: settler-colonialist LARPer) who belonged to a rabidly homophobic church. https://t.co/eW8yGdpfWY
— Peter Z Grimm (@The_Slavsquatch) November 25, 2018
So yeah… that tweet didn’t go over well for Matt. We could not find a single response in support of his thoughts on the matter.