To the editors:
It is ironic when a writer's attempt to refute his critics merely proves what the critics have been saying all along. And Tom Johnson's response (June 28) to Joel J. Sprayregen's criticism did just that. Oddly, Sprayregen never criticized Johnson, who only interviewed Dr. Louise Cainkar [May 10], the subject of Sprayregen's letter. Yet, Johnson promptly rushed to her defense like a disciple, revealing his article as more a collaboration than an interview. So much for objective journalism.
Johnson states that Sprayregen's letter "implicitly defines Iraqis, Palestinians, and members of the PLO as either terrorists or pampered children." (This bizarre either-or comparison should be enough to set off bells in one's head.) While every last member of the PLO may not be a terrorist--if we define a terrorist as one who actually commits an act of terrorism--all members support its terrorist acts (lest they wind up a victim of PLO terrorism) and many aid and abet it. (Which under the legal theory of accountability makes them as liable as if they committed the act themselves.)
But no one, much less Joel Sprayregen, need merely imply that the PLO is a terrorist organization. It is, in both theory (see the PLO's National Covenant, documents and speeches) and practice (assassination of Cleo Noel, the U.S. ambassador to Khartoum, massacre at Lod Airport [26 killed], hijacking of the Achille Lauro and murder of Leon Klinghoffer, the Rome and Vienna airport massacres [16 killed], Swissair jet explosion [47 killed], Munich Olympic massacre [11 Israeli athletes killed], Ma'alot massacre [52 schoolchildren killed], Karachi massacre [21 killed], Israeli bus attack [35 killed], etc, etc).
Furthermore, nowhere does Sprayregen define, implicitly or otherwise, that all Iraqis or Palestinians are terrorists or pampered children. What he stated was that the Palestinians and Iraqis employ terrorism, which they do, and that they are often treated like pampered children by their supporters who fail to criticize these barbaric acts.
But how Johnson interprets this to lay the groundwork for "genocide"--a word which gets bandied about so often that it has become like crying wolf--is truly mind-boggling. If someone were to advocate "genocide" (I am not quite sure how one would commit "genocide" against the PLO), Johnson--and everyone else, including Sprayregen--would and should be outraged. But even if "genocide" were advocated, and was predicated precisely on Sprayregen's criticisms, it would in no way detract from his observations.
But what Johnson is really trying to do is thwart any criticism of Iraqi or Palestinian terrorism on the basis that, well, any criticism is just laying the groundwork for "genocide." And since "genocide" may be in the offing for these groups, they might as well go on committing terrorism, which in their minds is merely an act of self-defense.
And this is precisely what Sprayregen meant when he said that these groups are treated like pampered children by their supporters.
Evan J. Winer