Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Excuse Me Mr. Berlin, But How Can Jews Write Christmas Songs?

You'll pardon me for being a bit tardy on this issue, but I just watched the FOX interview with Reza Aslan about his book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Normally I assiduously follow the news but whenever I hear FOX I assume it's a story I can ignore and, well, now I'm paying the late dues on that one.

Aside from the anti-Muslim bias, the interview was an unfortunate example of the anti-intellectual stream that runs through America, and has since its inception. FOX interviewer Lauren Green, who is credited with being the network's religion correspondent, is a representative of the worst kind of baiting, ignorant, narrow thinking that's infected cable television over the past 20 years. She ignores the idea that someone other than the group associated with the material can actually write a book about it, which would disqualify millions of books from the FOX approved list. And she completely ignored Aslan's academic credentials and research in favor of making a snap, and biased, judgement that wiped away all of his educational accomplishments.

What's even more hypocritical is that American conservatives claim to oppose identity politics. Commentators on the right have traditionally accused the left of slicing and dicing the country into interest groups that compete for attention and resources and prevent the country from being a truly color-blind, race-blind, religion-blind society. Clearly that is all dangerous talk.

Of course, the major point is that this is a Muslim author writing about Jesus, as if our identifiers determine, or are reflective of, our beliefs and biases. Would Ms. Green have as much trouble with Mississippi Burning, a film directed by a white Englishman that makes the FBI seem like the friend of  every African-American civil rights agitator in the Magnolia State?

And what of Irving Berlin, the musical genius, and Jewish-American, who penned some of the most memorable Christmas and Easter songs ever written? Would FOX hound Mr. Berlin for attempting to write songs about holidays that weren't his? I think you can guess the answer.

For more, go to and on Twitter @rigrundfest

No comments:

Post a Comment