Religious scholar Reza Aslan became a hero of civil discourse and tolerance when he deflected a Fox News interviewer's attacks about how he, a Muslim, could write a book about Jesus of Nazareth. But Aslan's case would not have come to such national prominence were it not for a BuzzFeed post that drew attention to the exchange:
Now, however, as Aslan has become a cause célèbre, BuzzFeed seems to be trying to draw attention back to itself, with Andrew Kaczynski — who published the original post — returning with a post titled "Author Attacked By Fox News Is Actually Kind Of A Jerk On Twitter"
Kaczynski finds 25 instances of Aslan attacking detractors on Twitter, sardonically branding them "fucking geniuses" and telling them, "Get your head out of your ass." These tweets came before the Fox News controversy, though they all tread on exactly the same ground.
The question is whether any of them makes Aslan a "jerk." He has endured an almost unimaginable assault on his character, his faith and his integrity as a scholar. The Fox News imbroglio did little more than shed light on how difficult it is to be a serious Muslim scholar in America today.
The tweets unearthed by Kaczynski simply buttress the same point, instead of suggesting — as the post implies — that Aslan's equanimity in the face of Fox News's barrage of idiocy were some kind of act.
As Aslan told The Atlantic Wire's Zach Schonfeld yesterday, Islamaphobe's "have been hounding me for a decade." Hence the angry tweets, which may not be eloquent, but, well, that's Twitter. The man wants to talk about ideas, not explain how he is not — really, he promises — an agent of the mullahs in Tehran. But even more, the post plays right into Fox News's agenda, tacitly lending credence to the suspicion that Aslan is not one of us, that attacks on him are somehow justified — whether because he is a Muslim or merely a jerk.