IN THE SOVIET government's first expulsion of an American journalist in five years, Andrew Nagorski, Moscow correspondent for Newsweek, has been charged with offenses ranging from impersonating a Russian newspaper editor to passing himself off as a Polish tourist. Actually, Mr. Nagorski, who vigorously denies all charges, appears to have been guilty of fluency in Russian and Polish, publishing material critical of the Soviet Union and doing his job well. The American government has announced that retaliatory steps will be taken, and it is expected that a Soviet journalist will soon be asked to leave Washington. These tit-for-tat disputes may appear to be petty, but they are not. Attempts by the Soviet Union to stem the flow of independent information to and in the United States are serious political maneuvers and must be dealt with firmly.

Of quite a different character, is the David and Goliath skirmish going on between the Soviet Union and the small community of Glen Cove, Long Island. The Russians have a 49-room mansion there that they use as a retreat for their United Nations personnel and families. Such diplomatic property is exempt from real estate taxes. In the past, Glen Cove city fathers have tried to get Washington to make a large payment in lieu of taxes. Their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Recently, though, charges have been made that the Russians were using Glen Cove for more than sun and sport--spying, in fact. Legislation was promptly passed denying the Russians and their families the right to use city-owned golf courses, tennis courts and beaches. Mayor Alan Parente, noting the failure of earlier city officials to get Washington to pay the $100,000 property tax bill, suggests: "with this espionage thing and the recreation passes, we have something different."

No community likes to suffer an incursion into its tax base, and community relations are often exacerbated when the nonprofit group buying in is alien to the local culture. For parochial reasons, however, Glen Cove has taken a step with international implications. Just as the expulsion of an American journalist will be matched in Washington, so will restrictions on diplomatic families in Glen Cove be matched in Moscow, where American diplomats already have little enough in the way of recreational opportunity.

We trust that the Long Island community will find a way to consider the national interest as the State Department is representing it and to restore use of its public facilities to all of its residents. It is the friendly, civil, American thing to do.