Recently I had a conversation on a train that raised an issue about the leftist media’s darling of the moment, Reza Aslan, along with larger questions about Islam and Christianity. Oddly enough, for all of the Left’s continuing outrage over Fox News’s “Islamophobic” interview of Aslan regarding his new book Zealot, the anointed pundits have never touched on this question: why aren’t Reza Aslan’s Christian relatives and friends trying to kill him?
It might seem to be a bizarre question, but it isn’t. It is a staple of mainstream media discourse that Islam and Christianity (and all other religions, for that matter) are essentially equal in their capacity to inspire both benevolence and violence. If Muslims commit jihad terror attacks today, well, remember the Crusades. If Muslims commit 91% of honor killings worldwide and several Muslim countries have relaxed penalties for such murders at the insistence of Islamic clerics, well, the Republican Party is just like the Taliban, anyway. And if Islam has a death penalty for apostasy, Christians must abuse those who leave Christianity as well.
I encountered this line of thought yet again on the train. Seated next to me was not (luckily) Reza Aslan himself, but a jovial and somewhat inebriated gentleman who told me in the course of our conversation that he was an Iraq war veteran. Then he told me about how once he was on patrol in Baghdad with an Iraqi soldier who asked him his religion. By this time the man had been in Iraq long enough to know what the Iraqis hated the most, and so he responded mischievously to the question: although he was a Catholic, he told the Iraqi he was Jewish, and when the Iraqi didn’t understand the English word, he drew a Star of David in the sand — whereupon the Iraqi drew his rifle on him.
I then explained that Islamic anti-Semitism is deeply rooted in the Qur’an, which calls the Jews the worst enemies of the Muslims (cf. 5:82). I told him about the genocidal hadith, in which Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, is depicted as saying that,
the last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him (Sahih Muslim 6985).
To all that, however, he responded that, well, the Bible had plenty of bad stuff in it, too. That put me in mind of Aslan’s notorious Fox interview, in which he avowed that “my mother is a Christian, my wife is a Christian, my brother-in-law is an evangelical pastor.” Aslan recounts that he himself was an enthusiastic evangelical Christian until his studies gave him the impression that the New Testament was not historically reliable, whereupon, he says: “I angrily discarded my faith as if it were a costly forgery I had been duped into buying.”