Alex Odeh and Arab-Americans

My first reaction to the article concerning the misperceptions about Arabs in the American mass media was one of definite approval [``American Arabs face increasing hostility,'' Oct. 21]. Someone was publicly acknowledging the gross distortion that appears every time an event occurs concerning Palestinians or Arabs of different backgrounds. However, the last two paragraphs left nothing but a negative impression about recent immigrants to Dearborn, Mich., once again reinforcing the differences of an ethnic minority. The media should work to better understand the Arab-American community and culture. Katie Patterson La Canada Flintridge, Calif.

The article on Arab-Americans and the assaults to which they are subjected was top-notch right up to the end. Then the writer turned to ``heavily Arab'' Dearborn, Mich., where recent immigrants allegedly ``tend to let their grass grow and live four or five families to a house.''

First, approximately 10 percent of Dearbornites are of Arab descent, hardly as ``heavily'' Arab as he suggests. Second, for two recent years I was president of my neighborhood association in one of Dearborn's so-called ``Arab'' neighborhoods.

I invite the writer or those he spoke with to walk with me down our well-maintained streets to see if he or they can identify Arab homes by the unkempt exteriors. Ronald R. Stockton Dearborn, Mich.

The story of the murder of Mr. Alex Odeh, regional director of the American Arab Anti-discrimination Committee, is only one of several recent acts of violence against Arabs in this country in retaliation for PLO actions in the Middle East. The reporter notes that ``the American public knows so little about things Arab, many say, that it tends to associate the violent acts of Arab terrorists with Arab peoples in general.''

The same day you ran an opinion piece by David D. Newsom denouncing that ``the Arabs'' in general support terrorism. Newsom refers to ``the Arabs'' and ``the Arab leaders'' nine times without ever referring to anyone by name. By lumping all Arabs together as a violent people, the writer contributes to anti-Arab hysteria in the United States. Holly J. Dunagan Madison, Wis.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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