Tag Archives: Reza Aslan

How to journalism

These CNN types are so obviously wrong it made my 101 students laugh:

Now comes Chris Cuomo, Yale graduate, to their defense:

CUOMO: Also, his tone was angry. He wound up kind of demonstrating what people are fearful about when they think of the faith in the first place, which is the hostility of it. Look, here’s what you guys were exposing yourself to. This is the state of play in journalism today. The Muslim world is responsible for a really big part of religious extremism right now. And they are unusually violent. They’re unusually barbaric in the places where it is happening. And it’s happening there more there than it is in other places. Do you therefore want to generalize? Of course not. But you do want to call a situation what it is. It’s not a coincidence that ISIS begins with an I. I mean, that’s what’s going on in that part of the world. Doesn’t mean other faiths can’t be violent and other cultures can’t be violent, but you shouldn’t be afraid of the question.

I’m wondering what “usually violent” would be, if the odd f**ktards with knives are “unusually” so.  Perhaps usual violence means you’re not actually angry when you kill someone, or you shoot them from a distance with a model airplane.  That, however, seems pretty unusual.

O tempora o mores!

Fig. 1: Ancient Roman Historians

Raising questions about an expert’s qualifications, motivations, and possible conflicts of interest is good practice.  However, a fundamental principle of argument says  that time is short and that one must therefore dispense with the bullshit.

This principle was violated by Fox News’ religion correspondent, Lauren Green, when she spent several minutes of an interview with well-known religious scholar Reza Aslan puzzling over why a Muslim would write a book about Jesus:

“You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?”

This not on its face a stupid question, but that was pretty much the only question the interviewer had for the next several minutes.  Her implication was that there is something suspect or inappropriate in a non-Christian’s writing about Jesus.  This is a variation on the fallacious variety of the ad hominem circumstantial: you’re just saying what you say about Jesus because you’re a Muslim out to terrorize Christianity with scholarship and footnotes.

That’s obviously silly and does not deserve refutation.

Sadly, having watched the interview, I have no idea what the book is about or whether it is any good.