Letters - A veritable Google of hits

After reading Nick Cohen's tirade against Islam's paranoia about the Masons ("Is fascism behind the terror?", 12 April) and noting the significance he attaches to Google giving 14,000 hits when you type in "Masons and Islam", I did a little research. First, Google gave me only 12,000 hits for "Masons and Islam" - but what's a few thousand here and there? "Masons and Jews" got 20,000. Maybe Abdullah el-Faisal, whom Cohen quotes ranting about "cabals of Jews and Freemasons", reached his conclusions after messing around with Google in the same way.

Here are some more results. "Nick Cohen and Masons" gave me 445 hits, "Nick Cohen and Jews" 10,000, "Nick Cohen and Islam" 12,000. It's such a mystery, isn't it? But venturing into the more exotic may help us truly to understand the nature of internet searches. "Mickey Mouse and Jews" got 9,550 hits, "Mickey Mouse and Islam" 12,700. "Nick Cohen and Mickey Mouse" got a startling 5,190. But I do agree with Cohen that Islam is wasting its time bothering about the Masons. With the Project for the New American Century, Israel and the Bush administration plus cronies on the loose, I think it's got more than enough to worry about.

Janice McPherson
Madrid, Spain

This article first appeared in the 26 April 2004 issue of the New Statesman, Appeasement: Should we strike a deal?