Magazine | July 5, 2010, Issue

Letters

Cuban Racial Demography

Duncan Currie’s article “Spare Not the Stick,” which appears in the June 7 issue, claims that Cuba is “a country that has been majority-black since the 1960s.” In fact, according to the CIA World Factbook, 65 percent of the population is white.

Jonathan Daly

Chicago

Duncan Currie Replies: According to the most widely cited estimate — which comes from the State Department — 62 percent of the island’s population is Afro-Cuban (mixed or black). Ethnologist Carlos Moore, a leading expert on Cuban race relations, believes the actual figure could be as high as 70 percent. As Moore has written, Afro-Cubans were a minority of the population when Fidel Castro first took power in 1959, but the white flight triggered by the imposition of Communist rule soon turned Cuba into a majority-black country. 

Inquisition Inquiries

In his review (“The Light of Reason,” June 7) of Melanie Phillips’s book, “The World Turned Upside Down,” George Weigel asks, “Ought Christians to feel ashamed of the Inquisition?” He answers, “Yes, for using coercive state power to enforce doctrinal claims is always an offense against the God who wishes to be adored by people who are free.”

I would like to ask Mr. Weigel, “By what logic do you believe that people living today ought to feel ashamed of something other people did hundreds of years ago?”

Arnold Knepfer

Corte Madera, Calif.

“Ought Christians to feel ashamed of the Inquisition?” George Weigel asks. “Yes, for using coercive state power to enforce doctrinal claims is always an offense against the God who wishes to be adored by people who are free.” Is that what was offensive about it? I thought the issue was something to do with, oh, burning people at the stake. Don’t worry too much about how that feels, we are effectively told; the real problem is that God wasn’t getting enough good free adoration! Mr. Weigel is to be congratulated for the courage and independence of thought this theological condemnation must have required.

Oscar DeWitt

Oroville, Calif.

George Weigel Replies: As John Paul II reminded us with his calls to cleanse the Church’s conscience in preparation for the Great Jubilee of 2000, Catholicism exists as a community extended over time, such that it’s entirely proper, and indeed imperative, for the Church to seek God’s pardon for the times in the past when its children have sinned — and even more so when actions contrary to Gospel truths were taken in the name of proclaiming or defending the Gospel. That includes remanding those considered heretics over to what used to be called the “civil arm” for capital punishment. Perhaps in the future Mr. DeWitt will treat such a subject with the seriousness it deserves. 

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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