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Falwell analogy

Reader comment on item: [Beltway Snipers]: Converts to Violence?

Submitted by Bert Wylen (United States), Oct 28, 2002 at 06:50

Dear Mr. Pipes,

To comment on your second question at the end of this commentary: "Second: To what extent does the rhetoric and example set by prominent figures such as Louis Farrakhan and Siraj Wahhaj influence followers like the alleged sniper to engage in violence? If it does, given that this is wartime, do steps need to be taken to curtail their rhetoric?"

I'd like to draw your attention to a similar situation, where we have a direct link between the rhetoric of violence and the consequential violence against the objects of the rhetoric: that is, the comments of Jerry Falwell, both against gays, and now against Islam. It's long been known that, as Falwell speaks, those inclined toward violence against gays will act out in sometimes fatal ways against innocent gay people. Those links, however, can rarely be made directly--those committing the violence usually quote scripture or claim to be "doing God's work." Now, however, we have a direct link between Falwell's comments on one of the Sunday television editorial programs against Muslims, and consequential violence (in which people died) in reaction to his statement that "Muhammed was a terrorist" (I may not have that quote exactly as he said it, but I'll be happy to furnish you with the research should you request it).

Hope that is helpful.

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