Media wonder boy Reza Aslan is behind the curve on this one: this particular talking point has already been debunked (not that he would care, or stop repeating it, if he knew). Back in June 2015, the New America Foundation published a study that garnered enthusiastic international publicity, as it purported to demonstrate that “right-wing extremists” and “white supremacists” were a larger threat to the U.S. than Islamic jihadis. The study was obviously skewed, as it was based on the number of those killed by jihadis and by right-wing extremists since September 12, 2001, leaving out 9/11. The study also ignored the many, many foiled jihad plots, and the fact that jihadis are part of an international movement that has killed many thousands of people, while right-wingers and white supremacists are not. It stated that right-wing extremists had killed 48 people from September 12, 2001 to June 2015, while Islamic jihadists had killed only 26 people in the U.S. in that span. If 9/11 had been added, the tally would have been 3,032 killed by Islamic jihadists and 48 by purported right-wing extremists. And even by the New America Foundation’s rules, the Orlando jihad massacre makes the death toll stand at 76 killed by Islamic jihadis, and 48 by purported right-wing extremists (I repeat “purported” because to get to its count of 48, the NAF counted as “right-wing” attacks killings that were perpetrated by people who were obviously deranged psychopaths devoid of any ideology). Will Reza Aslan retract and apologize? What do you think?
The semi-literate and fact-free Aslan is the living embodiment of how repeating politically correct shibboleths can enable you to go far in this world. Aslan has made the ridiculous claim that the idea of resurrection “simply doesn’t exist in Judaism,” despite numerous passages to the contrary in the Hebrew Scriptures. He has also referred to “the reincarnation, which Christianity talks about” — although he later claimed that one was a “typo.” In yet another howler he later insisted was a “typo,” he claimed that the Biblical story of Noah was barely four verses long — which he then corrected to forty, but that was wrong again, as it is 89 verses long. Aslan claimed that the “founding philosophy of the Jesuits” was “the preferential option for the poor,” when in reality, that phrase wasn’t even coined until 1968. He called Turkey the second most populous Muslim country, when it is actually the eighth most populous Muslim country. He thinks Pope Pius XI, who issued the anti-fascist encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge, was a fascist. He thinks Marx and Freud “gave birth to the Enlightenment,” when it ended in the late 18th century, before either of them were born. He claims that “the very first thing that Muhammad did was outlaw slavery,” when in fact Muhammad bought slaves, took female captives as sex slaves, and owned slaves until his death. He thinks Ethiopia and Eritrea are in Central Africa. A “renowned religious scholar” such as Reza Aslan should not make such elementary mistakes. But this is, of course, the man who writes “than” for “then”; apparently thinks the Latin word “et” is an abbreviation; and writes “clown’s” for “clowns.”
There is a sinister side to this sideshow: Aslan is a Board member of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). NIAC has been established in court as a lobbying group for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Said Michael Rubin: “Jamal Abdi, NIAC’s policy director, now appears to push aside any pretense that NIAC is something other than Iran’s lobby. Speaking at the forthcoming ‘Expose AIPAC’ conference, Abdi is featured on the ‘Training: Constituent Lobbying for Iran’ panel. Oops.” Iranian freedom activist Hassan Daioleslam “documented over a two-year period that NIAC is a front group lobbying on behalf of the Iranian regime.” NIAC had to pay him nearly $200,000 in legal fees after they sued him for defamation over his accusation that they were a front group for the mullahs, and lost. Yet Aslan remains on their Board.
“Maverick Speaker Series features theologian Reza Aslan,” by Matt Fulkerson, The Shorthorn, September 13, 2016:
The Maverick Speaker Series kicked off at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday as author and theologian Reza Aslan took the stage at Texas Hall.
Touching on issues of religion, terrorism and identity, Aslan suggested data and facts are not the weapons against bigotry. Instead, a focus on building personal relationships is the most powerful tool to foster understanding.
As a political and religious author and commentator, Aslan attempts to bring understanding about topics surrounding the Middle East, Islam and faith in the 21st century. In his most recent novel, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, Aslan explores the historical accounts of Jesus, differing perspectives regarding his origins and the beginnings of Christianity.
The driving force behind the religious violence and cultural distrust in the United States and around the world, Aslan said, is fear, which he first began to understand the impacts of as a young Iranian-American.
“I’ve admitted on numerous occasions that I spent a good portion of the 1980s pretending to be Mexican,” he said.
Poor victim! Would he have us believe that Muslims were persecuted and harassed through the 1980s?
People fear what they don’t understand, he said. When that fear is directed toward specific groups of people, the result is bigotry. The United States has a history of bigotry toward specific religious and cultural groups he said. Catholics and Jewish immigrants have all been subjected to this bigotry during the 20th century, he said, and the 21st century is no different.
To dismiss concern about Muslims in the U.S. as mere “bigotry” is to ignore the fact that Catholic and Jewish immigrants were not committing terrorist acts or threatening the imminent conquest of the U.S. When this claim was articulated as “Muslims are the new Jews,” Bill Maher noted: “Jews weren’t oppressing anybody. There weren’t 5,000 militant Jewish groups. They didn’t do a study of treatment of women around the world and find that Jews were at the bottom of it. There weren’t 10 Jewish countries in the world that were putting gay people to death just for being gay.” Indeed, and no one is calling for or justifying genocide of Muslims now; there is no individual or group remotely comparable to the National Socialists in any genuine sense.
The late Christopher Hitchens also refuted this idea when writing a few years ago about the Islamic supremacist mega-mosque at Ground Zero: “‘Some of what people are saying in this mosque controversy is very similar to what German media was saying about Jews in the 1920s and 1930s,’ Imam Abdullah Antepli, Muslim chaplain at Duke University, told the New York Times. Yes, we all recall the Jewish suicide bombers of that period, as we recall the Jewish yells for holy war, the Jewish demands for the veiling of women and the stoning of homosexuals, and the Jewish burning of newspapers that published cartoons they did not like.”
“Fear has a target, and it is Islam,” Aslan said.
Aslan spoke at length about issues of terrorism and said the double standard that exists around the word makes it meaningless.
“Terrorism is a bullshit word,” he said. “It says more about the person using it than about the person being described.”
Since 2002, right-wing, anti-government terrorists have killed far more Americans than Islamic terrorists, he said, but the term ‘terrorist’ is more often applied to people who practice Islam.
In order to combat these prejudices, he said, terminology designed to separate us must be dropped from the lexicon. In its place, people must begin to build relationships with those of different faiths and different backgrounds.
“When you have a lack of physical contact with people of other races, other colors, other nationalities, other religions, that leads precisely to a fear of ‘the other,’” he said. “This is just an academic way of saying it’s not about data, it’s about relationships.”…
One wonders when Islamic hardliners will start to take that advice and forget about the Qur’an’s admonition that they should be “harsh” toward unbelievers (48:29).