Cover photo courtesy BigStockPhoto
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The Eskimo Hunts in New York
By Stefan Kanfer
The darker side of the human spirit is not refined away by civilization. It is not something we are done with. Eskimo people, in my experience, have, still, a sober knowledge of their capacity for violence, but are reluctant to speak to it to whites because they have been taught that those are the emotions, the impulses, of primitives. We confuse the primitive with being deranged. They can humiliate you with a look that says they know better. ~ Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams
The wave tousled his hair, then gently withdrew to his hands, making them undulate as if they were playing the piano. That was the point, the policemen said. The fingers were still articulate. So the body had to be dead less than six hours. No rigor mortis.
They had found it on a routine dawn patrol. Because the man was white, they assumed he was a tourist. No label on the jacket, nothing in the pockets, but his height and out-of-season tan identified him as an American. The body was driven to the morgue at Male, where it was fingerprinted and checked for dental work and identifying scars. The description and prints were sent to Washington within the hour. The Maldives administrators had never been comfortable with the presence of U.S. Navy ships bobbing three miles away in the Indian Ocean.
But tourism provided 80% of the income for these islands with their long fine-sanded beaches and their bays with water clear as quartz. All things being equal, and they seldom were, cooperation was deemed preferable to confrontation. Police communication with the U.S. had become a monthly, sometimes weekly matter; it was agreed that crimes involving Americans would be reported to the FBI immediately. An answer came from the Bureau at noon: Vice Admiral J. J. Clausen was on his way to the islands. The next morning, a lean, confident man with close-cropped white hair arrived at the morgue. He was dressed in deliberately anonymous civvies as if he were visiting the islands on vacation: a tan linen sports jacket, a dark blue open shirt, khakis, loafers, no socks. He was met by Major Adam Didi, a stocky Asiatic officer who spoke in a metallic tenor.