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Reza Aslan’s Fox News Interview Raises Ire of Robert Spencer

Kalia Abiade • Aug 01, 2013

Fox News Anchor, Lauren Green, and Reza Aslan, author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”

Lauren Green, the religion correspondent for Fox News, has been the subject of scrutiny since her interview last week with Reza Aslan, a best-selling author and widely respected scholar of religion, about his new book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.

In case you missed it, it was excruciating to watch.

Green repeatedly asked Aslan how (why?!) he would write a book about the life of Jesus when he is — gasp! — a Muslim.

Aslan attempted to answer, but was met with Green’s persistence:

“But it still begs the question. Why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?”

As Aslan has repeatedly said before and since, that Jesus was a source of fascination and inspiration for him as a Muslim and as a scholar. It was embarrassing to watch as he had to invoke his academic degrees in order to defend his right to write a book about a man who is not only the inspiration for Christians around the world, but Muslims as well.

He later told an audience at a book reading, “If I do have some kind of philosophical objective—behind my secret Muslim objective—I want to show people you can be a follower of Jesus without necessarily begin a Christian.”

Either Green did not do her homework, or she did and simply threw out the notes. It seems likely that she was thrown some talking points by producers in a sad attempt to trip Aslan up.

In the wake of Green’s disastrous interview, Aslan has received what some are calling the “Fox News bump.” His sales on Amazon have gone through the roof and book readings across the country are packed with many fans who were previously unfamiliar with Aslan or his work.

Enter Robert Spencer.

Aslan has long-been a favorite target of the anti-Muslim writer and activist, so it’s no surprise that he’s chimed in now. Spencer has written several times about Aslan on his blog, Jihad Watch, calling him a “pint-sized literary poseur’ and a “quintessential example of a deceptive Islamic supremacist who is widely taken as a ‘moderate’ ” who peddles snake oil. Indeed, it is Spencer — a Christian who declares himself an “acclaimed scholar of Islam” (yet, who is welcomed with open arms on Fox to discuss Islam) — who is deceptive.

“I am constantly assailed for lacking scholarly credentials,” Spencer wrote, “But as it happens, when it comes to writing about religion I have exactly the same credentials as Aslan, a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.A. in Religious Studies. His other two degrees are in other fields.”

This is just laughable.

As Media Matters notes, Aslan has a Ph.D. in the sociology of religion, a master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard, and a bachelor’s degree in religion from Santa Clara University, as well as a master’s of fine arts in fiction.

As this country’s demographics shift, those trying to cling to their privilege are getting more and more desperate, and it shows. The criticism of Aslan by Fox and by Spencer, among others, is not the result of some naïve prejudice against Muslims. Make no mistake. These efforts are deliberate moves to malign Muslims and anyone who stands in the way of preserving privilege. It seems they are not even trying hide their bias anymore.

What better way to respond to the comical criticism and claims by these desperate activists, writers and journalists than with Aslan’s own words from an email to Spencer himself?

“You’re a clown and the only proper response to clowns is laughter. Unless of course your obsession with me is motivated by something else. In that case, I must tell you that I’m flattered but you’re really not my type.”

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