www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Giving thanks for blessings as Kansans -11/25/2014, 10:11 AM

Local fixes to local problems? -11/25/2014, 10:11 AM

Energy security -11/25/2014, 10:11 AM

Pipeline politics -11/24/2014, 10:04 AM

They killed Peter Kassig -11/24/2014, 10:04 AM

Going from bad to good on election night -11/23/2014, 6:38 PM

Free Speech can be shield or a sword -11/23/2014, 6:38 PM

Dodge City merger -11/22/2014, 6:38 PM

House mis-speaker -11/21/2014, 9:50 AM

Obama vs. Us -11/21/2014, 9:50 AM

Really smart conservatives love public debt -11/21/2014, 9:50 AM

Official welcome -11/20/2014, 9:52 AM

Control freaks in the U.S. -11/20/2014, 1:24 PM

How did we get here? -11/20/2014, 9:52 AM

An open letter to the GOP -11/19/2014, 10:03 AM

Successful farming -11/19/2014, 10:03 AM

Getting personal -11/18/2014, 9:15 AM

Teachers, not facilities -11/18/2014, 9:15 AM

Schoolteachers and the Legislature -11/18/2014, 9:06 AM

Water vision -11/18/2014, 9:06 AM

I see wonderful things -11/17/2014, 9:26 AM

Politics prevail over truth in Kansas elections -11/17/2014, 9:26 AM

Progress at mall -11/16/2014, 5:22 PM

Opinions on the general election -11/16/2014, 5:22 PM

Why are schools afraid of freedom? -11/16/2014, 5:22 PM

Educational fraud -11/14/2014, 9:42 AM

The American public gets smart -11/14/2014, 9:41 AM

State revenue -11/13/2014, 4:48 PM

Staying positive -11/13/2014, 2:14 PM

Democracy delusions -11/13/2014, 2:14 PM

An awesome tribute -11/13/2014, 2:14 PM

Military underpaid -11/12/2014, 2:15 PM

Success for Moran -11/12/2014, 11:54 AM

Shop wisely when you go -11/12/2014, 11:53 AM

2014: The year of no ideas -11/12/2014, 11:52 AM

Veterans Day -11/11/2014, 10:13 AM

A new start for veterans' health care -11/11/2014, 10:13 AM

Awaiting Brownback's mark -11/11/2014, 10:13 AM

Roberts and catcalls heard 'round the world -11/10/2014, 9:18 AM

Honoring all who served -11/10/2014, 9:18 AM

Brownback coalition prevails -11/9/2014, 6:03 PM

Seeing the news is necessary -11/9/2014, 6:02 PM

Immigration reform -11/9/2014, 6:02 PM

Scholar-athlete charade -11/7/2014, 8:32 AM

How about a beer and a short break? -11/7/2014, 8:32 AM

Fighting poverty -11/7/2014, 8:32 AM

Voting his mind, apparently -11/6/2014, 9:51 AM

Electing liberty -11/6/2014, 9:50 AM

UNC's troubles -11/6/2014, 9:50 AM

Fast-food pay -11/5/2014, 2:32 PM

Oil, natural gas driving security -11/5/2014, 10:20 AM

Ellis' future -11/5/2014, 10:19 AM

Family ties -11/5/2014, 10:19 AM

Quarantine questions -11/4/2014, 10:03 AM

Counting non-voter votes -11/4/2014, 10:03 AM

Low blows -11/4/2014, 10:03 AM

Take country back -11/3/2014, 4:36 PM

Big First Tea Party endorses Roberts -11/3/2014, 4:36 PM

Changing times -11/3/2014, 4:27 PM

Elect an Independent -11/3/2014, 4:27 PM

Leiker excels -11/3/2014, 4:27 PM

Watching decline -11/3/2014, 4:27 PM

Lack of respect -11/3/2014, 9:58 AM

Holding memories for Aunt Millie -11/3/2014, 9:53 AM

Playing the game -11/3/2014, 9:53 AM

Vote responsibly -11/3/2014, 9:53 AM

Sherow is change -11/3/2014, 9:53 AM

Silly season and cynical strategies -11/3/2014, 9:52 AM

No endorsement -11/3/2014, 9:52 AM

Thank you, Hays -11/3/2014, 9:52 AM

Another Koch division? -11/2/2014, 5:09 PM

A Matter of truth -11/2/2014, 5:09 PM

-11/2/2014, 5:09 PM

Leiker for House -11/2/2014, 5:08 PM

Bottom of barrel -11/2/2014, 5:08 PM

Candidate asks for support -11/1/2014, 5:09 PM

Roberts serves Kansas -11/1/2014, 5:09 PM

Face of the experiment -10/31/2014, 4:36 PM

Leiker fits the bill -10/31/2014, 4:18 PM

Ellis has a choice -10/31/2014, 3:06 PM

Health-care truth -10/31/2014, 2:55 PM

Dropping the ball -10/31/2014, 2:55 PM

Governor's tricks -10/31/2014, 2:44 PM

Ballot measures -10/31/2014, 11:10 AM

Marijuana debate -10/30/2014, 2:44 PM

Republican crossover -10/30/2014, 2:35 PM

Roberts not the answer -10/30/2014, 10:25 AM

See the signs -10/30/2014, 10:23 AM

Incumbents always win -10/30/2014, 10:23 AM

Convention center -10/30/2014, 10:23 AM

Schodorf for SOS -10/30/2014, 10:14 AM

Supermarket shenanigans -10/29/2014, 10:19 AM

Americans can fix the Senate -10/29/2014, 10:19 AM

A plea to city commissioners -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

Having no price tag -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

Leiker understands -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

Justice doing his job -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

Kansas and Greg Orman -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

'Surplus' KDOT money needed in western KS -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

Ready for a budget spin -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Fox News sinks to a new low with interview

Published on -8/5/2013, 10:17 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

No it was not the most excruciating thing ever seen on television. We've seen worse.

We've seen Roseanne singing the national anthem, Magic Johnson hosting a talk show and Paris Hilton, existing. But if it's not number one on that list of god-awful TV, author Reza Aslan's recent interview with Lauren Green of Fox "News" is surely in the top 10.

Google it if you haven't seen it. Or just ask some woman to rake her fingernails down a chalkboard for 10 minutes. Same difference.

Over and over again, speaking in the honeyed, patient tone you'd use to instruct a slow child, Aslan answers the question that has been put to him by reciting his bona fides. He is a historian. He is an expert on the New Testament. He is fluent in biblical Greek. He holds four degrees. He has spent 20 years researching the origins of Christianity. The study of religion is his job.

And over and over again, doing her best imitation of Mike Wallace pinning miscreants to the wall (if Mike Wallace had shilled for a company of right-wing propagandists playacting at journalism) Green keeps bringing him back to what she regards as the central issue: "You're a Muslim," she informs him, "so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?"

The book in question is "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth," a search for the historicity of the itinerant rabbi who founded the biggest religion on Earth. On that basis, you'd expect it to be controversial. Green, however, seems less vexed by the book's content than by its author's faith.

"Why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?" she asks.

And, "You're not just writing about a religion from a point of view of an observer."

And, "You've been on several programs and never disclosed that you're a Muslim." To which Aslan replies that his religion is disclosed on the second page of the book and in every media interview he's ever done.

It goes on like that for 10 cringe-inducing minutes.

At some point, you find yourself drifting in a stupor of disbelief, amusing yourself by imagining how Green might have interviewed other authors in history:

"John Steinbeck, you're from California. Why did you write about people from Oklahoma?"

"Tom Wolfe, you're no astronaut. Why did you write about astronauts?"

"Alexis de Tocqueville, you're a Frenchman. Why did you write about the United States?"

That's the subtext of Green's interview, after all, the idea that one must belong to a given tribe before one may write about that tribe. But of course, that's not quite what she's saying, is it? No, that stricture only applies if one is a Muslim.

For all their professed abhorrence of so-called "identity politics," it is for many conservatives an article of faith that if one's identity includes Islam, that fact trumps everything else: character, upbringing, beliefs, politics, or fluency in biblical Greek. Think Glenn Beck asking a Muslim congressman to prove he is not in league with America's enemies. Think Michele Bachmann accusing an aide to the secretary of state of terrorist ties.

You are your tribe. More to the point, you are the worst iteration of your tribe, the scapegoat for all our fears of your tribe.

So Fox's mugging of Aslan was an embarrassment, but hardly a surprise. The nation seems to have grown uncomfortably comfortable with the sort of "thinking" from which it proceeded.

The encounter drove Aslan's book to the top of the Amazon best sellers list, which is good news for him. But the better news is that he lives in a country where the right to follow any line of scholarship he wants is carved in stone, regardless of how he conceives God. There is a word for that:

Freedom.

Lauren Green should look it up.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist

for the Miami Herald.

lpitts@miamiherald.com

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News