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Sense and Sensibility

Foxy questions about Reza Aslan

Have you ever had sex with the Governor? Are you a stripper or an escort or just a hottie in awe?” So goes the first of a series of bizarre Fox News interviews lovingly compiled by The Daily Beast. Here’s another, from the debate over Barack Obama’s health reform: “If no federal money is used to subsidise abortions in low income women, doesn’t that mean there will be more low income babies?” Babies can make money. Any old babies, not just baby soap models. Someone should have told us this when we were babies.

The Beast compiled this collection after the weirdest Fox interview ever, titled ‘Spirited Debate’, went viral. In it, the channel’s religion correspondent Lauren Green tried to take down the Iranian-American religious scholar Reza Aslan but crashed in flames herself (Aslan is a contributing editor with the Beast). The reverberations are still echoing across the ether. In the course of a fairly long interview, Green had repeatedly questioned the right of Aslan, who is Muslim, to write the academic book Zealot? The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. The peculiar interview has powered the book to the top of the Amazon bestseller list, unseating JK Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling, the publishing phenomenon of July in the US, while UK printers are working overtime to meet orders.

Green bombards Aslan with a series of suspicions raised by absent third parties. After each salvo of rubbish, she magisterially demands to know: “What do you have to say to that?” Aslan is patient and polite (he pointedly calls Green “Ma’am”), but he wonders out loud what his faith has to do with his writing, which is the product of two decades of academic work in religious studies, in which he has four degrees. He chucks in a desperate rabble-pleaser: his mother and sister are Christian, and his brother-in-law is an evangelical pastor.

… contd.

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