Nowadays if you parrot the accepted establishment opinions, you can rise far and fast, and be hailed as a "respected scholar" even if you're, well, dimwitted and arrogant. In particular, if you oppose America's defense against the global jihad, hate Israel, love those who wish to destroy both the U.S. and Israel, claim that Muhammad was peaceful and Jesus was violent, and profess to debunk orthodox Christianity, you can become the next media star: hence Reza Aslan.
Why does it matter how vacuous Reza Aslan really is? Because he is a quintessential example of how those whom the mainstream media elevates as authorities are generally of the Emperor's-New-Clothes variety, and the entire view of the domestic and international political situation that the major news outlets present is out of focus, misleading, and bringing this nation to catastrophe — as is becoming increasingly apparent.
Reza Aslan is, of course, the supercilious, foul-mouthed media darling who keeps revealing his abysmal ignorance in interview after interview, making howling errors of fact, including his recent ridiculous claimthat the idea of resurrection "simply doesn't exist in Judaism," despite numerous passages to the contrary in the Hebrew Scriptures. He has also referred to "the reincarnation, which Christianity talks about" — although he later claimed that one was a "typo." In yet another howler he later insisted was a "typo," he claimed that the Biblical story of Noah was barely four verses long — which he then corrected to forty, but that was wrong again, as it is 89 verses long. Interviewed at the BBC about Obama's meeting with Pope Francis, Aslan claimed that the "founding philosophy of the Jesuits" was "the preferential option for the poor." But in reality, the Jesuits were founded in 1534, and according to the California Catholic Conference, "the popular term 'preferential option for the poor' is relatively new. Its first use in a Church document is in 1968 from a meeting of the Conference of Latin American Bishops held in Medellin, Columbia." So Aslan was only 434 years off — recalling when he called Turkey the second most populous Muslim country, which was only about 100 million people off.
And now he has invoked Pope Pius XI as an example of how "historically, Fascist ideology did infect corners of the Catholic world." In reality, Pope Pius XI concluded a Concordat with the Hitler regime in 1933, but after he saw how the Nazis were cheerfully violating its terms and persecuting Jews as well as Catholics, he issued the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge in 1937 — with the original pointedly issued in German instead of the usual Latin. In it, he excoriated the "so-called myth of race and blood," and declared: "Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community – however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things – whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds." That statement is a direct rejection of the very heart of fascism.
Aslan has, of course, confused Pius XI with his successor Pius XII, who has been widely accused of fascist sympathies. Whether or not Pope Pius XII actually had fascist sympathies is not the point here, and it would be nice if the comments field weren't devoted to that controversy, although it probably will be. The point is that such a "renowned religious scholar" such as Reza Aslan should not make such an elementary mistake. But this is, of course, the man who writes "than" for "then"; apparently thinks the Latin word "et" is an abbreviation; and writes "clown's" for "clowns." Aslan is less a "religious scholar" than he is a marginally literate, unevenly educated charlatan with a talent for telling the mainstream media what it wants to hear. His big secret is that he is really not all that bright, and is in way over his head, asked to comment all the time on matters that are way beyond his competence — and he knows it, which is why he lashes out so ferociously against anyone who dares to challenge him.
So it was in this case. When I called Aslan out on his error, he responded: "Moron Spencer doesn't realize that tweet was meant in conversation with @JeffreyGoldberg."
What? He was talking to Goldberg so it is all right for him to confuse two different and important historical figures with similar names? This response was typical of Aslan's adolescent vacuity, but I was surprised he didn't claim it was a "typo."
Even worse, Aslan's agenda is ultimately insidious: he is a Board member of a lobbying group for the bloodthirsty and genocidally antisemitic Iranian regime. Aslan tried to pass off Iran's genocidally-minded former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a liberal reformer and has called on the U.S. Government to negotiate with Ahmadinejad himself, as well as with the jihad terror group Hamas. Aslan has even praised the jihad terror group Hizballah as "the most dynamic political and social organization in Lebanon," and has also praised the anti-Semitic, misogynist, Islamic supremacist Muslim Brotherhood, which is dedicated in its own words, according to a captured internal document, to "eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within." Aslan wrote: "The Muslim Brotherhood will have a significant role to play in post-Mubarak Egypt. And that is good thing." Millions of Egyptians obviously disagree. He has also applauded and called for the forcible shutdown of the free speech of those who hates — a quintessentially fascist impulse.