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Letters: Islamophobia and terror

August 28, 2012

Re "Norway's sane killer," Opinion, Aug. 26

Nathan Lean is more concerned by acts of vandalism against Muslim institutions, suggesting that these acts are inspired by various activists and writers who spread Islamophobia. His prescription is censorship. He suggests that right-wing terrorism is of greater concern.

American terrorism carried out by the likes of David Koresh and Timothy McVeigh has nothing to do with Muslims. Koresh was a paranoid sexual abuser, and McVeigh was obsessed with the perceived intrusion by the federal government on our lives.

Muslim terrorism, on the other hand, is totally faith-based. The 9/11 attacks were carried out as a jihad against the U.S. The July 2005 bombings in London that killed 52 people were also part of a religious war.

Under no circumstances can concern about this violence be sloughed off as Islamophobia.

Larry Shapiro

Rancho Mirage

Lean's Op-Ed article hearkens back to the classic and, it now seems, prescient writings of psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, who cautioned more than 50 years ago that attributing extreme and violent ideas and acts to mental illness reduces society's need to take them seriously. There is a difference between evil and insanity.

Anders Behring Breivik's conviction in Norway is a timely reminder.

Gerald C. Davison

Los Angeles

The writer is a professor of psychology and gerontology at USC.

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