William O. Beeman (“Is Khomeini a Barbarian? Would He Seem Less So in Light of Our Fanaticisms?” Op-Ed Page, Feb. 20), is wrong to compare the Ayatollah Khomeini’s death sentence against Salman Rushdie to United States actions in Cuba, Libya, and Nicaragua.

The ayatollah condemned Rushdie for his writings alone. In contrast, the United States has at least targeted foreign governments for their actions, which arguably violated the rights of their own citizens and of foreigners. We attacked Fidel Castro in Cuba and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua not for advocating tyranny, but for practicing it, and Moammar Kadafi in Libya not for defending terrorism, but for engaging in it.

Our own foreign policy is hardly free of guilt. The United States has committed many unforgivable acts. But killing people for their ideas is not one of them.



Los Angeles