It’s always frightening when the political right undertakes another tirade against education and scholarship. The most recent embargo of sanity seems to be Fox “news'” interview and coverage of Dr. Reza Aslan’s most recent monograph about the life of the historical Jesus of Nazareth.
In their interview, the Fox newscaster (whose name I neither remember, nor feel the need to dignify with remembering) begins her segment by immediately challenging Dr. Aslan’s very right to write a book about Jesus considering that he is a Muslim.
“Why would a Muslim be interested in Jesus?” she asks, to which he replies with “Because it’s my job as a scholar”.
From there, the interview descends into the realm of the comically cringeworthy and absurd as Dr. Aslan, with a look of being totally flabbergasted, has to not so much defend his position but to clarify it. What the “good” people at Fox news fail to understand is that a scholar is someone who studies a subject academically and the very nature of academics is to present a conclusion based off a set of data which supports their original hypothesis.
The Fox newscaster counters that there are a lot of Christian scholars who came to different conclusions that he did, which must somehow mean that he is misintepreting the data or giving shading his conclusions by some deep rooted hatred of Jesus (no thanks to his Muslim background). Dr. Aslan which he replies that he is well aware and rightly declares that this is simply part of the academic debate. There will always be scholars who agree with one conclusions and scholars who disagree. Academia, as he puts it, is an ongoing debate.
After realizing that Dr. Aslan isn’t interested in arguing or being combative, she decides to cut deepr and challenges his academic credentials, suggesting that a person cannot be both a Muslim and a scholar at the same time. The inherent racism in such a statement, suggesting that a person’s background can somehow void their ability to be objective or education, is practically palpable.
I feel that I should be surprised, shocked and even horrified that one of the largest “news” agencies in the United States be both blatantly racist and unprofessional and then go about its ways as if everything is business as usual. But for some reason, I’m not surprised, or shocked because part of me has become so used to both seeing and reading this kind of thing that it really is business as usual for the political right.
Racism, prejudice adn empassionately misinformed speeches are what they stand for. I’ve become no more surprised at the xenophobia or convservative politicos as I am to know that Neo-Nazis are horrible people; it comes with the territory. I suppose it would be fair to say that I am mildly horrified nonetheless to know that these people not only walk among us but in many parts of North America (the world even) they hold majority power over lawmaking, morality and public consent.
Even here in Canada, our Prime Minister and his cronies make regular passing jabs at “those university types” as if having a higher education is something to be ashamed of. They hate universities because universities are hot-beds of left-thinking.
But don’t forget, universities are also hot-beds of education.