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    Fire that fuels anti-US protests has long smoldered

    RE “PROTESTS against US widen” (Page A1, Sept. 14): The world’s protests display such a disconcerting extent of anti-Western anger. If only we Westerners could remember that Middle Eastern Muslims never ruled us or interfered with us here, but instead it is we who did there — from outright colonial rule, through the Balfour Declaration, the Suez Canal, the Shah of Iran, and continuing. These have brought to our shores and our embassies extremism, including the lunatic criminality of 9/11 and the events of the past week.

    President Obama, with his worldliness and partial Muslim background, could still help to bring healing, as we had hoped in 2008, and he has tried.

    But his election also produced in the West still more Western phobia, paranoia, and bigotry as a backlash to it, such as in the minor but intensely hateful film that sparked the protests.

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    There seems to be a cycle of Western bigotry and the Islamic world’s extremism that resembles the cycle of violence in the Middle East’s primary conflict, of Israel and Palestine, which like a cancer ultimately underlies almost all extremism in the modern world.

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    If only we could imagine how much the paranoia and extremism would abate if enough determination and will existed among the parties to end that conflict and replace it, once and for all, with peace.

    James Adler

    Cambridge