In a chilling column at The Federalist, John Daniel Davidson shows why cultural relativism can be downright evil, citing leftists who oppose laws that would prevent the murder of children by indigenous tribes in Brazil and in the Bay of Bengal.
Davidson notes a post at Get Religion that asked, “Should Amazon tribes be allowed to kill their young? Foreign Policy editors aren’t sure.” The post linked to a story in Foreign Policy magazine detailing indigenous tribes in Brazil that ritually murdered infants and children who were either disabled, twins, or the children of single mothers.
A law under consideration in Brazil that would outlaw ritual infanticide and child killings by indigenous groups, called “Muwaji’s Law,” is vehemently opposed by the the Brazilian Association of Anthropology, which called it “the most repressive and lethal actions ever perpetrated against the indigenous peoples of the Americas, which were unfailingly justified through appeals to noble causes, humanitarian values and universal principles.” The association disparaged the proposed law as placing indigenous peoples “in the permanent condition of defendants before a tribunal tasked with determining their degree of savagery.”
The Brazilian Association of Anthropology is not the only depraved participant in the drama; Brazil’s National Indian Foundation, according to Davidson, won’t “collect data on child-killing among indigenous tribes, resists even acknowledging its existence in public, and said in a 2016 press release that raising the issue at all ‘is in many cases an attempt to incriminate and express prejudice against indigenous peoples.’”
Davidson tells the horrifying story from The Telegraph in 2007 about Márcia and Edson Suzuki, a pair of evangelical missionaries:
In 1995, the Suzukis were living among the Suruwaha when tribal leaders decided that a two-year-old girl named Hakani, who still could not walk or talk, should be killed, and ordered her parents to do it. The harrowing story of what ensued was They committed suicide—eating a poison root—rather than obey the order. Hakani’s 15-year-old brother was then told he had to kill her. He dug a hole to bury her next to the village hut, which is where the tribe usually buries animals, and hit her over the head with a machete to knock her out. However, she woke up as she was being placed in the hole and the boy found he could not go through with the killing. Hakani’s grandfather then shot her with an arrow. He was so upset he tried to commit suicide, too. But Hakani survived, although her wound became infected and she was left to live like an animal in the forest for three years. At the age of five she was very undersized, still unable to walk and abused by other Indians. She survived only because a brother smuggled food to her.
When the Suzukis brought the girl back to her tribe, she was rejected, so they adopted her. But then it got worse: “The Hakani affair prompted the public prosecutor’s office in the state of Amazonia to recommend in 2003 that all nonindigenous people be banned from lands occupied by the Suruwaha. According to Foreign Policy magazine, state officials relied on the judgment of anthropologist Marcos Farias de Almeida, who charged the Suzukis with advocating for Western values to the detriment of those held by the Suruwaha. By removing Hakani, the Suzukis “stood in the way of the realization of a cultural practice filled with meaning.”