Editor, Daily Nexus,
Alok Paranjpye’s letter (Daily Nexus, “The World’s Governments Don’t Know the Meaning of Altruism,” April 10, 2003) is so saturated with silly misunderstandings and foolish assertions I felt compelled to reply. First, Paranjpye says that it’s unfair for Ken Spain to accuse Edward Gorenshteyn of being wrong because, well, that’s just his opinion. Yet, not only is it perfectly legitimate to do so, but in Goreynshteyn’s case, it is a necessity for the simple reason that he was so absolutely wrong about the Fedayeen.
Second, the point about India and Islam is too important to be scuttled by Paranjype’s misstatement. Yes, India is a secular nation, but it happens to have the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. What’s significant is that India’s Muslims are free of the terrorism and extremism that plagues other Muslim nations, and the reason is their Islam exists in the context of a democratic, pluralistic system. The terrorist activities in Kashmir that Paranjype refers to, on the other hand, originate in Pakistan, not India, and serve as an example of Islam in a non-democratic context.
Third, no one ever said nations act for reasons of altruism. But that doesn’t mean Iraqis weren’t liberated yesterday, a point I’d imagine by this point is rather hard to deny. The Fedayeen alternatively are Saddam’s thuggish loyalists and kill more Iraqis than Americans. They’re simply the last remnants of a moribund regime, and only someone who doesn’t quite understand who they are and what they seek to do would dare call them “freedom fighters” or characterize them as “valiant,” for they are in fact quite the opposite.