Competing fantasies in the Middle East

To the editor: Every day The Times gives testament to what vile, brutal, irrational animals we are. Lately, this has been exemplified by Islamic State and Boko Haram. The president and others say the problem is extremism. Walter Reich and others say it's violent Islamism. ("Obama must be clear: War on extremism is a war on violent Islamism," op-ed, Feb. 20)

History says it's human nature. Groups do the worst things for the best reasons. The tribe of Joshua is said to have committed genocide for Jehovah, and Islamic State kills the ungodly for Allah. Most Americans support discrimination out of respect for religion.


Perhaps the president is correct and it is more a question of degree than of kind.

There is no evidence for the supernatural. Therefore the only reasonable conclusion is that all religions are just made up, regardless of how meaningful or popular.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says we are in a "religious war." How much blood and treasure will be spilled to decide which is the one true fantasy?

David Greene, San Pedro


To the editor: Professor Walter Reich hasn't been keeping up with the news, apparently.

Islamic State is the organization engaging in notorious terrorist acts from Syria and Iraq to Libya. Hezbollah fighters are combating Islamic State in Syria. Military advisors from Iran are on the ground in Iraq to assist Kurdish fighters.

Islamic State received funding from sources in Saudi Arabia and certain Persian Gulf emirates, secondary aid and comfort from Turkey and zero support of any kind from Iran. Furthermore, Iran had nothing to do with the anti-Semitic terrorist acts in Paris.

Hamas is penned up in Gaza and has no known link to Islamic State.

Iran is a large country with very substantial natural resources and of course is going to be influential in its region. Nothing the U.S. does or can do will change that, and it will remain true whether Iran obtains a nuclear weapon or not.

John R. Yates, Los Angeles

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