Michael Schuman has aptly described the constraints faced by foreign investors in China ["The New Great Wall of China," Sept. 24]. While Chinese authorities may be seen to be taking more stringent measures to control foreign businesses, it is mostly self-protection. China has the right to take care of its own people first, especially amid continuing global economic turbulence and uncertainty.
After the Arab Spring
Re "Flash Point" [Sept. 24]: The blaming of the U.S. for the production of the Innocence of Muslims is symptomatic of an animosity toward a country that, while believing itself to be the bastion of democracy, has stirred up hatred among less developed countries. This hatred has many roots, chief of which are jealousy and intolerance. Were this amateur film produced in any other nation, the reaction would definitely not have been as strong, but it would still have confirmed the danger that religion poses to our planet.
It is difficult to judge which was more stupid and reprehensible, the film denigrating Islam or the violence it provoked from Muslims. Without the noisy demonstrations, the bizarre video would have gone largely unnoticed by most of the world. Instead, it went viral. One other unmistakable phenomenon is made obvious yet again by this sorry affair: anything resembling democracy seems impossible in Middle Eastern countries, as vividly illustrated by recent and current events in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. All those nations were stable only while under the full control of despotic dictators.
Committing sacrilege with such a film and provoking such threat to human life and property, as well as generating hatred and ill will among the nations of the world, should not be allowed even in the name of freedom of expression.
I'm deeply grateful for Lisa Abend's article about the demonstration for the independence of Catalonia [Briefing, Sept. 24]. My son and I took part in the march. Abend recounted precisely the relationship between Catalonia and Spain. But unemployment and frustration weren't the main reasons for the massive demonstration; it was a long-held shared anger. The feeling of being unfairly treated, dismissed and even despised by the Spanish government and citizens alike on linguistic, political and economic issues has been latent in the Catalan people's innermost thoughts.
Giving the Dictator a Chance
I was shocked by Alex Perry's article, "Strong Man" [Sept. 24]. Perry presents Rwanda's President Paul Kagame as a victim of the international community. The wars in Congo have caused millions of deaths, and Kagame is a central figure in this horrible piece of theater all this in order to mine the rare minerals in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
People in the West tend to think of all strongmen as dangerous tyrants. Strongmen who really want to improve their countries and retire when they have achieved that are acceptable in desperate situations. Kagame is obviously the right man at the right time in the right place. Kigali, Rwanda, is cleaner than most European capitals, and the economic growth of the country is stunning. Let the man work, and let's see where Rwanda will go. When the Rwandan people are worse off in a few years than they are now, condemn him. At the moment, they are much better off than they were 10 years ago.
As a Belgian, I'm ashamed of what my ancestors and contemporaries have "accomplished" in Africa. If anything, we should get out of their way, stop offering expert opinions about realities none of us have lived, stop preying on their natural resources and give them plenty of credit for their own accomplishments.
Re "The Mitt Mirage" [Sept. 24]: A mirage promises an oasis but fails to deliver the water. Mitt Romney has relentlessly fudged the issues. With the incumbent President, we know where he stands, and that's a winning plus in my book.
Good to Eat
In "Taste Invaders," one of the invasive animals mentioned is the nutria rodent [Sept. 17]. I grew up in Romania, and my father used to breed nutrias and use their meat for food. The meat is very tasty, especially when made into sausages or smoked as pastrami. They are also very healthful, as they have almost no fat. Nutrias are nice pets too, but you need to hide all wires and small objects as the article says, they like to chew on things.