To the Editor

Izvestia

Moscow, U.S.S.R.

Dear Comrade,

I am writing to you because over the years you have used many of my articles in which I have attacked the presidents of the United States, the State Department, the Pentagon, the FBI, the CIA and other agencies of my government.

I know they have been appreciated in the Soviet Union even if you haven't paid for them, because they point out the flaws of our system and give aid and comfort to your people.

But I wonder if it has ever occurred to you that I am an American dissident - an American Jewish dissident, if you will, which probably in your eyes makes me the worst kind.

While the Soviet press has been nice enough to give me so much space in your newspapers, I wonder whether your officials have ever questioned why I am still walking around a free man.

I'll try to explain it if I may. The United States is made up entirely of dissidents, and since there are so many of us it doesn't seem to make any difference if there is one more or one less speaking out against what we think our government is doing wrong.

This does not meant that our officials don't get angry. Those in power in the White House are always screaming that they're getting a raw deal.

Our elected officials in Congress aren't too happy with dissidents either, and every government agency constantly claims that we don't get the facts right - which may or may not be true. But despite their distress the criticisim goes on, and the walls of our system still stand.

We go to great extremes to protect our dissidents in this country. We allow the Ku Klux Klan to burn crosses, and the Nazis to hold rallies in our parks. Lately we've even indicted FBI agents for allegedly-using unlawful means to find out what our dissidents were up to.

Please don't get the idea that one dissident agrees with another - far from it. It's just that once you start going after dissidents that you disagree with, we believe the next step is that someone will start going after you. This country doesn't have enough courtrooms to handle all the people who are constantly writing and speaking out as to what our government is doing wrong.

You probably consider it a weakness, but we don't have any laws on the books (so far) that make it a crime to defame and slander the state. Both our major political parties are used to it and, if you want the truth, get a great deal of pleasure out of defaming and slandering not only the other party but also itself.

I don't wish to criticize your system but I would suggest that if you permitted your dissidents to speak freely as much as we permit ours to, you wouldn't get so upset about them and have to put them on trial.

Free people can be a pain in the neck of any government, but once you have enough of them speaking out, it's amazing how easy it is to get used to them.

As a first step, why not print this piece? If anyone in the Kremlin complains, just tell them it was written by a bona fide American dissident who, despite what he says about his government, can't get arrested to save his life.