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An untrustworthy notion

July 12, 2007

Re "The case for mistrusting Muslims," Opinion, July 8

The Times owes the Muslim American community an apology for printing Theodore Dalrymple's screed. What is he suggesting in his statement that "the 1-in-1,000 chance that a man is a murderous fanatic is more important to me than the 999-in-1,000 chance that he is not a murderous fanatic"? Pointing the finger of guilt at an entire group of people is dangerous and racist.

If we are to follow Dalrymple's thinking, then all Irish Catholic Americans should have been suspect because of Timothy McVeigh's terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City.

PAT MCDONNELL

Los Angeles

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Dalrymple needs only to look at the role of past British politicians to figure out the cause for the dilemma the country is in today. In the first part of the 1900s, to counter Indian nationalism, the British engineered the breakup of India and helped create an Islamic state of Pakistan. Later, with the United States, they encouraged religious fundamentalists in that newly formed state to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Now the chickens have come to roost, and they have a "Londonistan" to deal with.

The lesson is quite plain: You can't turn religious fundamentalism on and off to suit your immediate interests. As the founding fathers of this country understood, in the long term, it is best to keep religion out of politics.

SRINIVAS CHARI

Downey

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I agree with Dalrymple that we really ought to discriminate against members of groups we think might do us harm. But why limit ourselves to discriminating against Muslims? It's well known that men are responsible for most violence. We should expel all men from our countries and refuse to let any more in. Cloning will soon make their participation in reproduction unnecessary. Their utility for taking out the garbage and lifting heavy objects is no offset for their potential for violence.

KARIN PALLY

Santa Monica

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Dalrymple cynically suggests that the only need Britain has for Muslims of any kind is to use their oil money to keep London real estate prices afloat. He is clearly advocating that Britain should get rid of its Muslim population and stop dealing with any Muslims anywhere, with that one exception. Applying his twisted logic with a sense of proportionality, a perfectly rational response by the colonized peoples to the legacy of deception and murderous atrocities of British colonialism would have been to kill any Englishman anywhere.

In this increasingly interdependent world, in which cultures and countries must work together, Dalrymple -- a self-proclaimed wise world traveler -- harbors rather foolish notions of insulating Britain from nearly one-fifth of humanity. Fortunately, most common folk in Britain are not afflicted with the mean-spirited perceptiveness that has transformed Dalrymple into a person who advocates instant distrust of all Muslims.

FOUAD KHATIB

San Jose

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