At first glance, it may seem that the religious right’s obstinate support for Donald Trump is the starkest example to date of fundamentalism–or rather, Christianism–in its most unacceptable form. Indeed, with it becoming more apparent that Trump is in danger of being voted off the island in November, it is equally apparent that his fundie supporters will have to answer for continuing to prop him up. But believe it or not, there’s an example more outrageous than that. It takes some effort to get more outrageous than continuing to rally around a man who plastered a private cell phone number on social media, mocked the disabled, condones violence, revels in degrading women, and engages in blatant racism. But as outrageous as it is, it did not directly put innocent people in mortal danger. I’m about to tell you about a case of Christianism run amok that actually put innocent people on a remote island in danger of being wiped out–all in the name of being reached for Jesus. And it looks even more outrageous when you consider that the coronavirus pandemic should have erased any doubt about why it was so outrageous. On Thanksgiving Day 2018, the nation learned that John Allen Chau, a young Christian missionary, had died in a hail of arrows four days earlier while attempting to minister to the Sentinelese, an isolated tribe who live on North Sentinel Island off the coast of the Indian mainland. At first glance, it looked like another case of Christians being persecuted in a country where Christians had frequently been targeted for persecution long before Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014. But any sympathy for Chau–at least in the reality-based world–quickly evaporated when more details of his adventure dribbled out. The Sentinelese are among the few peoples who have never had any sustained contact with the outside world. Numbering anywhere between 15 and 500 people, they have lived as hunter-gatherers on North Sentinel for over 60,000 years. One side effect of this prolonged isolation is that they have no genetic immunity to diseases; something as mundane as a cold could kill them. According to Survival International, an NGO that advocates for indigenous peoples, this was proven in brutal fashion during the British colonial era. A colonial administrator took some Sentinelese adults and children to his base to Port Blair, capital of the island chain that includes North Sentinel, ostensibly for research. The adults died in short order, but the children were sent back to the island with gifts. It’s not unreasonable to conclude that the kids brought pathogens back with them as well–with catastrophic results. The Indian government has long barred any travelers from coming within three nautical miles of the island. After numerous attempts to contact the islanders from the 1960s onward, it largely abandoned any effort to reach out to them after it appeared they survived the 2004 tsunami. New Delhi dispatches naval patrols to the area. As it turns out, Chau was well aware of this. He’d actually spent several years trying to network with people who could help him reach out to what he called “Satan’s last stronghold on Earth.” He’d spent a year training with All Nations, a missionary group based out of Kansas City, before traveling to India in 2018. He even bribed two fishermen […]
Donald Trump should have pulled his head out of his namaste long enough to get a little coaching on the pronunciation of Indian words. Whatever his conciliatory intent may have been, botching the language is not a good way to make an impression. Trump appeared at the world’s largest cricket stadium, where white hats with his name on them had been left on the seats, and the sounds of the song “Macho Man” by the Village People rang out. BBC: However, he struggled to pronounce several Indian words – from Ahmedabad, the city where he was speaking, to Swami Vivekananda, an Indian philosopher, greatly admired by Mr Modi. He also called the Vedas – ancient Hindu texts – “Vestas”. He ended his speech by saying: “God bless India, God bless the United States of America – we love you, we love you very much.” He spoke after Mr Modi, and the BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan says crowds began leaving mid-way through the US president’s speech. In all fairness, the crowds were leaving so that they could avoid as much traffic as possible. Trump’s off to a good start with his blunders during his rock star act. He also visited the Taj Mahal, which is the name sake of his bankrupted casino. Nice to know that the real thing isn’t anywhere near as tacky as the Trump version. Let’s see how things develop from here.
Donald Trump eats cow a lot, which probably accounts for the fact of his bovine appearance — you are what you eat, taken in his case to the cartoonish level. In all events, he’s now going to a country where the slaughter of cows is illegal, and that does tend to put a crimp in one’s consumption of burnt steak, cheeseburgers and meatloaf. CNN: Modi is a devoted vegetarian and plans to serve vegetarian food to the President, according to people familiar with the planning. Trump will sit for several meals with Modi when he’s in India, including a lunch and a formal banquet Tuesday evening at ornate Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official presidential palace in Delhi. – People familiar with the trip’s planning cautioned that menus would likely only be finalized at the last minute. And Trump’s aides have been known to intervene to ensure Trump’s tastes are catered to when he’s on the road (he once had steak twice in a day while abroad.) – A person close to the President who has dined with him on several occasions said Trump has salad with a meal every now and then — but other than that, “I have never seen him eat a vegetable.” Even McDonald’s doesn’t serve beef in India. They serve chicken burgers or fried paneer cheese sandwiches. What’s a fast food junkie to do? – This trip shows signs already of being a real bust. Remember, this is a guy who wouldn’t eat sushi in Japan, or sit on the floor on a cushion. And he might insist on staying at a Trump property, like he did when he was in Las Vegas. Who knows, maybe he can sneak out to Air Force One for a burger?
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