Last week, the uncontacted Sentinelese tribe reportedly murdered a missionary who attempted to approach them. A few years ago, the same tribe also murdered a couple of innocent fishermen who accidentally drifted close to their island.
While the drama with the Stone Age tribe unfolds in India, a different (but not entirely unrelated) drama has taken place down on our southern border. Hordes of illegal intruders are trying to storm into our country, throwing rocks at border patrol agents and using children as human shields. Lethal force has not been wielded against these intruders, but they have been met with some physical resistance. U.S. authorities have used pepper spray to disperse the crowds and restore order amid the chaos.
An interesting contrast reveals itself. Many people in our country, particularly leftists, have defended the violent and homicidal actions of the Sentinelese on the grounds that they are simply “defending their land” and “repelling invaders.” I have heard almost no one suggest that perhaps it’s not entirely okay for them to simply murder anyone who wanders within arrow shot. No, in their case we are told that the right to “sovereignty” is so sacrosanct, so absolute, so unquestionable, that they can, and perhaps even should, brutally kill any and all intruders, visitors, tourists, missionaries, or hapless fishermen who catch an unfortunate gust of wind. Anyone the tide washes ashore can be executed on sight, no questions asked, and we must accept this as both a hallowed custom and a necessary self-defense measure.
And yet. When mobs of people approach our border, not to visit, not by accident, not to tell us about Jesus, but to move in and take up residence in direct defiance of our laws, the very same people who defend the Sentinelese will insist that we are evil if we use any physical means whatsoever to prevent the invasion. Forget lethal force. According to these people, we can’t use tear gas or batons. We can’t even build a wall to keep them out. What about defending our land and sovereignty? What about our right to repel invaders? Apparently we have no such right. The Sentinelese can butcher an unarmed, harmless visitor, but we can’t put up so much as a physical barricade.
Of course, I will be told that the primitive tribe doesn’t know any better. They should be held to a different standard. We cannot operate as they do. But this is the bigotry of low expectations on steroids. It treats the tribesmen like wild animals and assumes that they have an underdeveloped conscience. Besides, the Sentinelese defenders are arguing for a general principle: a group has the right to defend its land against intruders. If they really just mean to argue that a primitive tribe can do whatever it wants because it’s primitive, they should just come out and say that. Even if it is incredibly racist. If, however, they are arguing their case on the grounds of self-defense and sovereignty, they cannot very well exclude the United States from that principle.
I’m not advocating that the U.S. should start killing intruders. I don’t think anyone — primitive or otherwise — should have that blanket policy. But I do think we have the moral and legal right to protect ourselves, our laws, our border, and our sovereignty, even to the point of physical force. If you defend the actions of the Sentinelese, you must agree with me on this. Unless you are a hypocrite. Or a racist.