UPDATE: David Pakman has put together the best takedown yet of Reza Aslan history of lies. Watch it here: http://bit.ly/1PoAXgs
In my opinion, the clip above is the true beginning of the Harris-Aslan conflict as we know it. Amazingly, in 2007 there was virtually no animosity between Reza Aslan and Sam Harris. In his essay “Lifting the Veil on Islamophobia” Sam even recalls a time when, on behalf of Aayan Hirsi Ali, he “reached out to Reza Aslan, with whom I was on entirely cordial terms”. In the clip above, Sam reaches out to Reza once more, this time publicly and with genuine respect: “The thing I don’t know, and which is a place where I think Reza and I will actually have a meeting of the minds, is –it’s perfectly clear to me that my style of conversation is not what can be broadcast to the Muslim world to change peoples’ minds. That is your job; you’re much better suited to that job, and I would agree with you that in order to empower the moderates of the Muslim world, drawing cartoons of the prophet and writing paragraphs of the sort I’ve written is not a strategy. I’m not a diplomat…” He continues this honest concession to Aslan and outlines the problem as he sees it.
How does Reza respond? (2:40) Well, with the stomach-turning arrogance we’ve come to expect from him (down to how he says “I have an expertEEEEES,” or frankly that he even bothers to say that at all), and, as far as I can tell, the last real olive branch ever extended by either of them goes totally ungrasped. (No, I’m not counting when Sam publicly swore off ever mentioning Reza again, or this year when they both asked their Twitter followers to stop tagging the other, because both plans flopped almost immediately and were delusional begin with). Reza accuses Sam of not knowing what he’s talking about, and in the 8 years that have passed he’s essentially just repeated that with increasingly colorful language and disregard for honesty.
Here’s what’s funny: it occurs to me now that what Sam wanted from Reza back in 2007 was what he had to wait almost a decade to get from Maajid Nawaz: a collaboration with a Muslim intellectual who was willing to face up to the problem of Islamism, but who could push back against Sam’s views and have a meaningful debate on the future of Islam. Now Sam and Maajid are pushing the conversation forward with “Islam and the Future of Tolerance” and risking their lives to do so, and Reza is filming some fucking CNN series that aims to be like the Anthony Bourdain show but with world religions instead of tapas.
When I listen to Reza, I wonder how someone can so utterly fail to get that people truly believe some very very horrible things –the way Reza can hear Sam quote, as he does in the clip, that 77% of Lebanese in polled in 2002 support suicide bombing in defense of Islam, and not even bat an eye at that fact, for example– but then I remember how he views his own faith: according to Aslan, Islam is merely “a man-made institution. It’s a set of symbols and metaphors that provides a language for which to express what is inexpressible, and that is faith. It’s symbols and metaphors that I prefer, but it’s not more right or more wrong than any other symbols and metaphors. It’s a language, that’s all it is.”
Sure thing, Reza. In the meantime, thank goodness for Maajid Nawaz.
…And you know what, just because thinking about Reza Aslan is so incredibly aggravating and I need a good laugh, here are the actual top 3 most up-voted comments from his students on RateMyProfessor.com (link below):
1) “Awful professor and person. Only cares about advancing himself. Arrogant, misogynist. Do not recommend.”
2) “Its not that this guy was a hard professor but as a student I enjoy a professor who is investing in my learning and cares about me as a student. And this guys is so arrogant and full of himself, it’s portrayed when he teaches. I think he cares a lot more about his career as a writer than professor.”
3) “Professor Aslan is inspiring to be around because he’s a public figure. That said, his teaching is aloof and minimal. He’s more caught up in advancing his own career than helping students with theirs.”
Full debate: http://bit.ly/1KYhyVn
Lifting the Veil of Islamophobia: http://bit.ly/1m2SQX1
Reza Aslan’s personal religious views: http://bit.ly/1PagtL1
Reza Aslan’s RateMyProfessor page: http://bit.ly/1QQHxR3