The Party of Jefferson
Damon Root is wrong when he claims that Cuba was "acquired" by the U.S. in 1898 ("The Party of Jefferson," December). The United States had a protectorate over Cuba for many years and acquired Guantanamo. It controlled Cuba as thoroughly as it controlled Iraq in 2003–04. But Cuba legally remained an independent nation, and has never been U.S. territory.
Martin Morse Wooster
Silver Spring, MD
Damon Root replies: Spain relinquished Cuba in 1898 but the U.S. didn't grant Cuba its independence until 1902. In the intervening years, Cuba was under U.S. military jurisdiction. Then the U.S. dictated the terms of Cuban independence, including the right to intervene militarily in Cuban affairs. Hardly what I'd call "an independent nation."
Thank Deng Xiaoping for Little Girls
I enjoyed Jacob Sullum's story on Chinese adoption ("Thank Deng Xiao-ping for Little Girls," December). My wife and I came back from China this past summer with our second Chinese daughter. They are true blessings—but yes, it will be a better day when the Chinese government no longer makes it necessary to adopt them, at least on so vast a scale.
Host, NPR Weekend Edition Saturday
As a fellow journalist and adoptive mother—I adopted my daughter Molly in 1997 in Chengdu—I appreciate Jacob Sullum's thorough, beautifully written piece on Chinese adoptions. It is by far the best examination of the subject I've seen in a magazine article.
Like Jacob Sullum's family, my wife and I adopted our daughter Marlee from China in February 2001. I want to thank Sullum for his realistic analysis of Chinese adoption. I read Karin Evans' The Lost Daughters of China when we were completing the paper chase, and while I appreciated the sentiments that Ms. Evans shared, I've always been interested in the political machinations in China that gave me my daughter.
Let the Viewer Decide
Frederick Wiseman makes movies for intellectuals—films that are more interesting to talk and write about afterwards than actually watch. That's why Reason's interview with him ("Let the Viewer Decide," December) was infinitely more interesting than any of his works.
New York, NY
'The Trouble Is the West'
I wish that Rogier van Bakel's interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali was required reading for every citizen of the United States ("?'The Trouble Is the West',?" November). I salute reason for publishing this interview, where the truth is finally told about the terrible crisis that is upon us in the West. I have read articles in other publications warning about the real and present danger of Islam, but I was thrilled to see it in a magazine of your stature, in which many readers will come to terms at last with what is really happening, from the mouth of an authentic and credible person who well knows what she is talking about.
Perhaps now we will comprehend that our civilization is on the brink. I personally believe it is already way too late. We have slept through the alarm bells clanging out our doom.
Rogier van Bakel's interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali was interesting and well-executed, but I was dismayed by Hirsi Ali's decision to paint 1.5 billion people with a broad brush and call for a "war" on their beliefs. Like many converts, Hirsi Ali exhibits the same radicalism and collectivism in her new viewpoint that she denounces in her former co-religionists, even arguing at the end of the interview that Western tolerance is our greatest weakness.
Moreover, when Hirsi Ali argues that "there is no moderate Islam," she is arguing on the same side as any radical mullah. She might consider the implications of this argument for a Muslim wavering between liberalism and extremism. She ignores the interactions of religion, culture, and individual traits, leading to the same variety in religion that we see in other cultural products. A moderate Muslim is practicing a religion that is as real (or not real, if you prefer) as any other, no matter how loudly Hirsi Ali denounces it as heresy.
Fortunately, when viewing Muslim immigrants through the lens of economics, Hirsi Ali does reject collectivism. I agree with her observation that the different backgrounds of Muslims from a variety of places and economic classes can explain why some have fared quite well in Western societies, and why America's more dynamic economy has assimilated Muslim immigrants better than European welfare states. Just as she rejects collectivism in economic analysis, I hope she will reject it in religious and cultural critiques.
West Covina, CA
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