|Every 10 years, millions of Middle Easterners in the U.S. turn to their census forms and check the box under race labeled “white.” This is, after all, their legal classification. The U.S. government formally recognizes anyone from “Europe, the Middle East or North Africa” as white.
This seems counterintuitive, but it’s the product of several contentious court battles that occurred in the early 1900s. The most prominent of these was Dow v. United States, a 1915 case in which Syrian immigrant George Dow fought to overturn two lower court decisions that found him ineligible for naturalization because he wasn’t white. A federal appeals court ruled in Dow’s favor. And he won because of Jesus.
Perhaps popular perceptions of Jesus have not changed since then, as evidenced by the extremely uncomfortable Fox News interview with Reza Aslan—a religious scholar and professor at UC Riverside—that has gone viral since it was posted July 26. Aslan is the author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” which has been the center of some controversy at Fox News, but not for anything that’s in the book. The point of contention for Lauren Green, host of the FoxNews.com program “Spirited Debate,” and Fox News guest writer and Christian pastor John S. Dickerson is the author himself, who is Muslim.
“I want to be clear, you are a Muslim,” Green began the interview. “So why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?”
In a manner befitting that of an elementary school teacher, Aslan carefully explained to Green that he was a scholar who’s devoted much of his academic career to the history of religions. His own religion was inconsequential.
“Well, to be clear,” replied Aslan, “I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim.”
But Green’s line of questioning did not let up, and she continued to prod Aslan’s motives for writing the book, even quoting from the Dickerson Fox News op-ed piece that purported to “out” Aslan as a Muslim. Aslan, clearly unsurprised by her persistence, informed her patiently that he’s never tried to hide the fact that he’s Muslim—it’s something he states quite clearly on the second page of his new book.
This went on for almost 10 minutes, making it clear that this wasn’t an interview. It was an interrogation. In Dickerson’s op-ed and in Green’s interview, it was not Aslan’s book that was being put on trial, but Aslan himself.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003—Suicides an in issue in Iraq:
|Let's face facts. Iraq is a physically, mentally and socially hostile place. Supplies are frequently short, the soldiers feel trapped and the enemy is getting better, not worse.
All it takes for a 19 year old to get jumpy is a letter from his gf that she has a new boyfriend. Colleges have a problem dealing with this, so does the Army. Iraq could be a very easy place to lose hope.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin gave us his round-up, and in the first of what will become regular weekly appearances, Joan McCarter visited with us as well! Items of interest: the procedural drama surrounding the confirmation (finally!) of an ATF Director, The Hill's "50 Most Beautiful" list triggers a Sports Illustrated curse, the continuing intra-"party" (if you can still call it that) Gop feud, the search for the origins of Green Lanternism, upcoming filibuster fights, House Rs in disarray, the crappy student loan "fix" bill, and the continuing tensions on NSA policy between Intelligence and Judiciary committee Senators.