Brent Bozell Defends Ad Hominem Attack on Reza Aslan’s Jesus Book

The silliness continues; the distortions multiply; the actual substance of the book continues to be ignored.


The original interview with Aslan is here.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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8 Responses to Brent Bozell Defends Ad Hominem Attack on Reza Aslan’s Jesus Book

  1. Eliza says:

    Thank you for sharing this video. So Aslan lied about his credentials, what else did he lie about. How about his made up portrayal of Jesus Christ.

  2. Staffan says:

    The silliness is to assume that Aslan agreed to be interviewed by Fox in the hope of having a constructive discussion of some kind. Fox needs controversy to stay relevant and Aslan needs it to get some attention for his new book. You seem to understand half of this in your comment on Fox but you fail to see the collusion going on here.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Aslan may have been cynical about his appearance on Fox, but he may not have known until the last hour who or how he might participate in a program, or how he might fare from any broadsides directed his way. For all he knew, Fox might have been planning to bring on William Lane Craig to debate him. Fox producers CHOSE ad hominem as the line of attack.

      I agree there is a collusion of interests (controversy sells). It’s entertainment. But, as I say, it’s also a great example of ad hominem and the contempt with which Fox producers hold their own audience (its ability to follow an argument, its attention span, its reactivity to questioning fundamentalist religious assumptions, etc.).

      And so Fox’s feigned religious outrage is akin to people today still pretending shock–shock!–at the swivel of Elvis’s hips in 1950s archive footage. Academics have been deconstructing the gospels to devastating effect since the 19th century. Anybody with the least serious interest can locate this literature and read it. It’s the thought of a former evangelical Christian turned liberal American Muslim who is now teaching biblical studies at an American university that clangs the psychological dinner bells of Tea Party fundamentalists.

      And Fox producers like to put people on (like Bozell) who proceed, with mock Southern defiance (“The South shall rise again!”), to defend indefensible positions (anti-global warming, etc.). It conditions the audience in a cult-like manner to cloister themselves tribally and not believe outsiders. And it’s a form of perversity–Dostoevsky’s underground man insisting that 2 plus 2 is 5 because he wants it to be.

      The reality is that, since the Enlightenment, intellectuals and scholars have progressively chipped away at the notion that the Bible is a historically inerrant document. As with global warming among scientists, this is not in any way controversial among serious contemporary historians and academics of the biblical literature. Of course the Bible contains historical errors–including errors about Jesus. And of course scholars will try to untangle what is history from what is myth in the Bible. This is only controversial behavior at Fox News and among Christian fundamentalists (a substantial portion of Fox News’s viewership).


      • Staffan says:

        Of course the Bible is unhistorical in many parts, but those scholars and intellectuals have written a bible of their own, built on the Blank Slate and egalitarian ideals. Human nature is not what Enlightenment scholars imagined it to be and that should have political implications; it should even arouse curiosity in anyone who likes the idea of enlightenment. Instead it’s all about how stupid Fox viewers are. Because in a post-Slate era, that’s what keeps team Enlightenment together.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        If human nature is not what Rousseau and Locke imagined, there are things that need to be rethought and that rethinking has political implications, I agree. But that doesn’t mean that liberals and secular humanists should indulge fundamentalism, giving it a pass because it’s part of human nature.

        Fundamentalism, in its variety of forms, has become a poisonous global phenomenon, from Bush’s disastrous presidency, to young earth creationism taught to children, to The Brotherhood in Egypt. As we speak, fundamentalist Pakistanis, should they achieve power in Pakistan, will have 100 nuclear weapons at their disposal. An exchange of such weapons with India would certainly ruin the planet for centuries, collapsing the human population. And the whole tension in Israel and the Middle East is being driven by rigid versions of fundamentalist religion influencing politics on all sides (American Christian fundamentalists, Orthodox Jews, and medieval-nostalgic Muslims are fueling the fires there).

        The secular worldview went through the fever of communism in the 20th century, and was rightly resisted in its totalitarian manifestation, but it has largely returned to saner forms in the 21st century. The contemporary fever is fundamentalism in religion, and until religion revives itself in saner forms, it is what needs to be resisted today. If that includes mockery, well, this is part of the arsenal of rhetoric.

        Here’s an example of an American song that mocked Hitler in the 1940s. Would it have been better simply to have made peace with his version of fanatic superstition and nationalism because it’s part of human nature?

        And here’s some boasting from Woody Guthrie:


      • Santi Tafarella says:

        One more thought. What holds secular humanists together and animates them is not just opposition to fundamentalism, but the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If you have a program for the future better than this one, by all means share it.

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