Although even President Reagan has been willing to learn that the Soviet Union is more than just an "Evil Empire," it appears from your May 8 Letters that some Times readers still prefer to believe in the mythical "Red Menace" stereotypes propagated by Joe McCarthy and his ilk in the 1950s.
One reader declared that "I don't want to be pals with the Soviets . . . and I don't want them to understand me," while another implored that laws be enacted that would prohibit Americans "from dealing with citizens of countries that are hostile to our basic philosophy."
How pitiful it is that there are still people who prefer to wallow in ignorance and bigotry, judging others by their own standards rather than recognizing that others have just as much right to practice their culture as do we.
Far more can be accomplished by sitting down in mutual respect and settling our differences, than by pointing thousands of nuclear missiles at one another. While a few of my Orange County neighbors may prefer to cower in fear, I for one choose to stand out in the open and dare for peace.
STEPHEN C. SMITH