Reza Aslan: Fox News “Spinning Islamophobia & Anti-Muslim Sentiment Into Ratings Gold”

by
Owen Poindexter
After enduring a prejudice-saturated interview with Fox News, Reza Aslan finally broke down: “Let's be honest: This is a news organization that has spent the last decade spinning Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment into ratings gold."

Reza Aslan has generally been reserved, relative to the hype around him, about how he has been treated by Fox News. In his viral interview with host Lauren Green, Aslan kept his cool, despite being confused and perturbed by why Green kept dwelling on Aslan’s Muslim faith instead of his decades of religious scholarship (including a degree in the New Testament). However, Aslan is, I can only assume, now doing more interviews than he ever has in his life, and eventually a guy wears down

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Aslan let his true feelings about Fox News slip (emphasis mine):

“Let's be honest: This is a news organization that has spent the last decade spinning Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment into ratings gold. They have been trying to convince Americans that Muslims are out to get them, and it’s worked for them. But I think that people are starting to get tired of it. People are starting to be able to see through it. If there's anything that I really hope will happen from this inadvertent viral situation, it is that the veil will have been lifted, for those for whom it hasn’t already been lifted. And they will see what this news network is all about.”

Aslan also said that he knew what was coming when he agreed to the interview with Fox News, but the way things proceeded surprised even him. Addressing Green’s question about why a Muslim would write a book about Jesus, Aslan recalled:

“I wasn't that surprised that it was the first question out of the box. I wasn't that surprised that it was the second question. I was a little more surprised that it was the third question. By around the eighth or ninth minute when we are still talking about this subject -- that's when it gets really surreal.”

As for how he managed to keep his cool, Aslan said that it was a conscious decision, because, well, he understands a thing or two about stereotypes:

“When you're a brown Muslim from Iran talking about Jesus on TV, you need to keep your cool at all times, OK?”

Though Aslan has had to deal with a lot of vitriol lately, he says that the responses he has been getting, including from Fox News watchers and Christians who disagree with him about Jesus, has been overwhelmingly positive. This speaks, not just to Aslan's scholarship, but his attitude and willingness to make his research into a conversation.

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