Reza Aslan had to endure one of the more painful, Christian-centric interviews in recent memory on a national news show (Fox News, in case you hadn’t heard or guessed). The interview, a glaring example of how Muslims are seen as having ulterior motives, and are unable to understand the “rest of” society (“rest of” gets scare quotes because Muslims are just as woven into the fabric of America as anyone else), went viral, and Aslan has received a flurry of national attention. He did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit shortly after, and has talked about the Fox News interview in subsequent interviews, some of which were surely planned already as part of his book tour, and others may have sprung up as a result of the Fox interview. Aslan recently told Piers Morgan that he was “kind of embarrassed” by the Fox fiasco.
Though Aslan was clearly perturbed and confused by the Fox interview, his national stock has risen because of it, and the publicity is translating into book sales. At the time of writing, Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, the book about Jesus which Fox’s Lauren Green was so surprised a Muslim would write, is the number one book on Amazon.com, the world’s number one bookseller. It is the most viewed book, and the only book among Amazon’s most viewed products (it sits next to the Kindle, the Kindle Fire, the X-Box and a set of Star Trek: Next Generation DVDs).
While Fox News does more harm than good, it’s harm is occasionally so visible and absurd that it backfires into something positive. The sudden fame of Reza Aslan and his, by most accounts, thoughtful and insightful book, are an example of that.