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Lampooning

December 29, 1985

"Ads Exploit Anti-Soviet Sentiments" says the headline of a well-written story (Dec. 21) on this timely subject.

Because I believe our country's consumers have more common sense than the advertisers give them credit for having, I feel confident that this type of television commercial will turn out to be more of a boomerang than a boon. In fact, several friends who stopped buying the two brands of beer involved have prompted a similar decision in our household.

One reason I find this "lampoon technique" repugnant is that it reeks of the simplistic and senseless lampooning to which Blacks, Orientals, Jews and other racial/ethnic groups were widely subjected in the not-so-distant past. A second reason stems from the deep and dangerous disservice we do ourselves by feeding our sense of superiority through a portrayal of the Soviet people as "strangers and enemies at whom it is safe to laugh." The fact is that thermonuclear technology has transformed the Soviets and us into global Siamese Twins destined to live--or die--together. We are adversaries and may always remain such. But the real enemy is our common enemy; nuclear war. So the security of each adversary becomes strengthened only as both become--less and less--"strangers at whom it is safe to laugh."

Arrogant superiority leads to contempt. Contempt leads easily to hatred. The foolish advertisers referred to in your article would do well to heed these words of George Washington's Farewell Address:

"The nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest."

HAROLD WILLENS

Los Angeles

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