What Aslan says in the book fits perfectly with Obama’s Cairo and other speeches, so much so that one wonders if Obama recommended it to him. What’s interesting, though, is that Aslan himself is an Iranian-American who seems to act like a radical Islamist.
Rather than respond with documented arguments to those who disagree with his views, Aslan has been abusive to anyone going beyond a wonderful religion of peace characterization of contemporary Islam. Perhaps most disturbing, he is a board member of the National Iranian American Council, for all practical purposes the lobbying group in America for Iran’s regime.
One can say this last fact knowing that the organization’s leader, Trita Parsi, has just lost a law suit against a researcher who made the above accusation.
Aslan also consistently claims that there is a tidal wave of hatred against Muslims in America, using them as scapegoats for the bad economic situation. Have you noticed any such thing? He also advocates in tweets that people vandalize legal American Freedom Defense Initiative signs in the New York subway. “Hey New York! How many racist ads are left unscathed? Get busy.”
This doesn’t accord with what Kerry said in his talk in Germany: “….Our country is incredibly tolerant of people of all walks of life and different philosophies and religions.”
But Aslan clearly doesn’t understand that at all. Yet if he’s correct about Islam then shouldn’t he amend his own behavior? Perhaps, however, his performances reflect something about the accuracy of what he writes. And if his Islam is so moderate then why doesn’t he condemn—rather than lobby for—Iran’s regime?
A key factor in his approach is to blame any problem with the perception of Islam in the West to Western bigotry and ignorance. Why, then, isn’t there a lot of nasty stuff going on regarding Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, the Jains, or various other religions?
Any honest approach, no matter how supportive or apologetic for Islam, must acknowledge that certain political events have a relationship to this factor of fear and dislike. Once the issue of terrorism, radical ideology, and different interpretations of Islam (including those of such people as Usama bin Ladin and Ruhollah Khomeini) is discussed, though, Aslan would have to make counter-arguments. And to do that he would have to admit that there are certain statements in Islamic texts and events in Islam’s history that helped lead to these outcomes.
Aslan has said that “if you know one Muslim, it cuts in half the negativity rating you have toward Islam.” Makes sense. But that depends on who that “one Muslim” is. The main threat to Islam’s reputation is not evil “Islamophobes” but radical or terrorist Muslims and the powerful ideology they have unleashed that runs the lives of several hundred million people, threatens many millions more, and has killed a lot of Americans.
How is Aslan’s idealized, apologetic, dishonest view going to help a U.S. secretary of state facing radical states driven by a passionately felt view that they are implementing proper Islam and that if you disagree they will kill you, not just deface their signs in New York subways?
Option A: Kerry lectures the Muslim Brotherhood on how it doesn’t understand Islam properly and tells them to read Aslan.
Option B: Kerry thinks that the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups are really moderate precisely because they are so eager to practice the religion of peace portrayed by Aslan.
Pretending there’s no elephant in the world doesn’t protect anyone from getting trampled. In fact, that makes it far more likely that people will get trampled.
Originally published at Rubin Reports.Barry Rubin
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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