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French nuns in Tianjin, China, in the mid-19th century were rumored to be buying children. A mob thought they were eating them or something and stormed the cathedral, raped the nuns and killed a few clergy members. The French government demanded war, and Beijing was forced to apologize. Anti-missionary riots continued for the next several decades, up until the event known in the West as the Boxer Rebellion.

The event casts a certain kind of light on the tragedy of cultural misunderstanding. The nuns were, of course, taking orphans off the street and nursing them to health, but all the Chinese peasants knew was that kids were coming up missing. Talk about an utterly pointless tragedy.

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