Remember when Sam Harris said a misogynistic thing and doubled-down on it by talking about how he has a wife, a mother, and a female editor whose contributions to his work he highly values? Most white liberal atheists saw that for what it was and mocked him. It’s the “I have a black friend” argument.
I guess folks doing #AnApostatesExperience think that I – a Sufi scholar of comp religions married to a Christian – have a problem w them
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) October 14, 2014
He utterly missed the point and let the world know that he thinks marrying a Christian woman is part of what automatically makes him tolerant of apostasy. You’d think someone who claims to be a scholar of Islam would know for a Muslim man to marry a Christian women is a more-than-appropriate action as per orthodox, mainstream Islam. His form of interfaith marriage is hardly anything indicative of a likelihood that he’d be sympathetic to the plight of ex-Muslims.
As for his Sufism and study of comparative religions, that is almost as much of a non-sequitor. Sufis may not be widely loved among non-Sufi Muslims, but they are probably less likely to be considered to be inherently opposed to Islam in the way that an ex-Muslim would be. There are plenty of Muslims who tolerate Sufis and members of other religions far more than ex-Muslims. As with any group, the hatred for a perceived traitor generally far exceeds that of random outsiders.
Besides this latest actions, there are issues with the way in which he promotes his view of Islam. I’ve already linked to Sarah and Muhammad’s excellent takedown of the factual issues with Reza Aslan’s more recent statements.
I read his No god But God when I was experiencing doubts but trying to stay Muslim. Even then, I found his trumping up of some highly uncommon “liberal”/”progressive” interpretations of Islam to be a bit disingenuous. His views hardly represent any significant percentage of Muslims, let alone many. I very much am in favor of promoting reformist voices but not when they pretend the situation is anything other than it is or obscure the truth in any way.
The lack of consideration of ex-Muslims from left-wing types is why many ex-Muslims find ourselves in a very uncomfortable position. It’s not as if we don’t see the xenophobia and racism behind much of the professed right-wing sympathy for us. At the same time, at least there is overt sympathy of any kind there. It doesn’t hurt that there is also money to hire bodyguards for when things get out of hand and power that can amplify our voices.
I made a conscious choice to avoid going neo-con, but I honestly don’t feel too angry that there are ex-Muslims in genuine danger who go that way. I feel more angry about those atheists who are the first to step up with criticisms of Christian apologia but give Reza Aslan a free pass. Where else can ex-Muslims go when we are forgotten by white liberal/progressive types?
For all these reasons, my plea is that white progressive/liberal atheists reconsider Reza Aslan. If you fall into that camp and think he’s great but don’t appreciate right-wing Christian or Republican apologists of a similar bent, I would hope that you at least reconsider your position.