Reza Aslan And How Fox News Islamophobia Comes From The Top
On Saturday night Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski posted a FoxNews.com segment in which Reza Aslan, a noted religious scholar, was interviewed by Spirited Debate host Lauren Green, a Fox News religion correspondent.
Kaczynski asked “Is this the most embarrassing interview Fox News has ever done?” due to the host's inability to accept that Aslan, who is Muslim, would have any legitimate interest in a scholarly work about Jesus.
While the segment itself was jarring, particularly when Green falsely accused Reza Aslan of hiding his Muslim faith -- a ridiculous charge implying devotion to Islam is something that must be hidden -- and furthermore as the author points out, he noted it on the second page of his book and in countless interviews.
It should surprise no one that Islamophobia has a home on Fox. From the top on down, the network's attitude could be at best described as hostile to Muslims. In Zev Chafet's hagiography of Ailes, published earlier this year, he quotes Fox News' boss explicitly stating his hostility to Muslims (emphasis added):
He donates upward of 10 percent of his net income to charities, many of them religious, including an annual fifty grand to the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and another fifty grand to Catholic charities." He told me he'd be glad to give to Muslim charities, too, "if they disarm.
A Rolling Stone profile of Ailes quoted a source close to the Fox boss who claimed he “has a personal paranoia about people who are Muslim - which is consistent with the ideology of his network.”
These beliefs have been reflected by a number of the network's on-air personalities.
Bill O'Reilly implied collective guilt among those who adhere to Islam, while discussing the proposed Park51 Islamic community center being built several blocks from the World Trade Center site, declaring on that the project was “inappropriate” because “Muslims killed us on 9-11.”
This view was also articulated by Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade who claimed you “can't avoid th[e] fact” that “every terrorist is a Muslim.”
Eric Bolling made the same false claim on The Five, telling the audience “every terrorist on American soil has been a Muslim.”
Fox host Lauren Green exhibited a second attitude endemic of Fox News' broadcast philosophy. Attempting to defend her absurd position that a noted religious scholar who is Muslim could not write about another religion, she asked, “why would a Democrat, want to promote democracy by writing about a Republican?”
In the strange world of Fox News, we can learn nothing by looking into the perspectives of others.
Muslims, one can deduce from Green's questions, are incapable of viewing the world from outside the perspective of their faith. Or perhaps this is simply a case of countertransference, because at Fox, all human motivations can only be viewed through a one-dimensional lens.