Hardly anyone thought much about the mysterious inhabitants of North Sentinel Island, whom we call the Sentinelese (because we have no idea what else to call them), until the close of November in the Year of Our Lord 2018. But following a report of the untimely and violent death of 26-year-old missionary John Allen Chau at their hands, the Sentinelese were beheld with visionary wonderment by the Western world.
Disdainfully in most accounts, the press reported on this American “adventurer’s” breach of the sacred beach of a forbidden forested island one-third the size of Rockford, Illinois, and located in the Bay of Bengal on the way to nowhere. There he was met predictably with a shower of wooden arrows tipped with thin, sharp metal salvaged from an abandoned ship and fired by dark, naked pagans. His body, dragged lifeless across the sand, was viewed off-shore by the fishermen ferrymen who had smuggled him to North Sentinel.
Mr. Chau had intended to reach these heathens with the Gospel and convert them to evangelical Christianity. Unintentionally, he revealed in the West a heart of darkness.
There is no denying that Mr. Chau acted heedlessly, even when one grants that the young man had prepared for this missionary expedition for some time and with some effort—contrary to initial reports and Twitter hot takes. But it was foolish of him to arrive assuming that...