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Things I'm Thinking 07/31/13

Nathaniel Haas |
July 31, 2013 | 10:57 a.m. PDT


Editor's Note: "Things I'm Thinking 07/31/13" is part of Calum Hayes' summer opinion series, Things I'm Thinking.

Reza Aslan's book is now Amazon's #1 bestseller. (Screenshot)
Reza Aslan's book is now Amazon's #1 bestseller. (Screenshot)
With Calum on vacation in the Far East and (blissfully) far removed from the latest round of headlines, this week’s task of thinking about the news fell to yours truly—and there was a lot to think about.

In one of the most newsworthy weeks in recent memory, Fox News sinks to a new low, Pope Francis pioneers revolutionary views in the Catholic Church (again) and Anthony Wiener pioneers sexting. Again.

1. I’m thinking that Fox News conducted their most embarrassing interview yet. In an episode of “Spirited Debate,” anchor Lauren Green conducted an absurdly bigoted cross-examination of her latest victim, Dr. Reza Aslan. A scholar of religions, Dr. Aslan has been making Internet waves for his latest book, “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.” It quickly became clear that Green had not read the book, nor much of anything, in recent years.

“I want to be clear, so you’re a Muslim,” she began. “Why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?”

Aslan was clearly well prepared for the Fox news “gotcha” question.

“To be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim.”

Green, eager to demonstrate her degree in hearing impairment, continued by quoting one of Aslan’s critics, who had ridiculed the book as “Islamic Doctrine” in the oxymoronic Fox News Opinion Section. As the interview dragged on, it quickly became clear that Aslan’s faith, rather than his book, was the subject in question.

Even more ironic is that Green’s interview was so lacking in the actual content of Dr. Aslan’s book, yet so chalk full of ignorance, that sales of the book increased 35 percent overnight and it climbed to #1 on the Amazon book list. Fresh off the “Fox News Bump,” Dr. Aslan was thrilled.

2. I’m thinking that Pope Francis is the man. After his predecessor, the red shoe emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies shouldn't be priests, Pope Francis decided that enough was enough. In a shocking departure from Pope Benedict, whose most newsworthy action as Pope was having the gall to retire, Francis opined that gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten:

"When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem...they’re our brothers.”

The year has already been revolutionary for gay rights. Last month, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down two decisions that codified the right of homosexual couples to federal benefits, and expanded the rights of those couples to marry in the first place. The struggle for gay rights has been called the civil rights movement of the twenty first century, and the Pope’s comments will be remembered as a great leap in a year already remembered for so many steps forward.

Il Papa’s statement signifies what many hope is an impending shift in the Catholic Church’s most archaic views, from shunning homosexuality to barring women from the priesthood. Already, in the first months of his job as head of the Church, Pope Francis I seems prepared for the job.

And he’s doing it in brown shoes.

3. I’m thinking that it's time for Anthony Weiner to go somewhere far, far away. The former Congressman is now in a fierce battle with Mark Sanchez over the top spot on the “People New Yorkers Hate Most” list. His mayoral campaign has blown to smithereens amid revelations he continued eerie sexual relationships with women after resigning from Congress in 2011. Described by one of the women as a “perpetually horny middle-aged man,” the former Congressman reportedly signed messages to one woman with the senses-arousing pen name “Carlos Danger.” It appears that signing them “Mr. Wiener,” or some creative permutation thereof, would have been too drab for the taste of Señor Danger.

Even Eliot Spitzer, the New York “Love Gov” whose tenure in the State’s highest office came to an unpleasant end in 2008 when his high priced hookers went to press, urged Mr. Wiener to resign. Unlike Mr. Wiener, Mr. Spitzer’s sexcapades with the women—who told of his fondness for wearing black socks to bed with them—ended with his resignation.

At one press conference, Wiener blither blathered his way through the following hilarious explanation: “There are more than — there are a few. I don’t have a specific number for you...Sometimes they didn’t go consistently. Whatever.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Wiener is not only embarrassing himself and what little dignity he has left, but he is also casting unnecessary publicity upon the Democratic Party. His selfish refusal to step down may come home to roost for the Dems in more ways then one. Not only could it hamper the party's image in future local and national elections, but the unnecessary hullabaloo created by the scandal could also have refreshed in the minds of many the Clinton years, potentially damaging a future presidential run by Hilary.

Not to be deterred, a new video posted to Wiener’s campaign website preaches that his critics “certainly don’t know me.”

He could not be more correct. It is clear that no one will ever understand Anthony Wiener.

The rest of 2013 promises much to ponder. If this week's headlines are any indication, what has already been an incredibly news-packed year will only continue writing the history books. Say tuned. Stay aware. And most importantly, stay thinking.


Reach Contributor Nathaniel Haas here; follow him here.



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