UC Irvine Talk by Reza Aslan titled: “Fear Inc., Confronting Islamaphobia in America”.
He is a Professor at UC Riverside in the Department of Creative Writing. He is an analyst for CNN, and has a CNN show on religions around the world, called Reza Aslan’s “Believer” on his Spiritual Adventures. He has written several outstanding books on religion, starting with “No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam”. He also wrote the Number 1 New York Times bestseller: “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”. He has degrees in religion from Harvard, and UC Santa Barbara.
I did not concentrate on the talk or take notes to report fully on it. But it was a brilliant talk by Reza, who came to the US from Iran as a child. He left after the fall of the Shah. He grew up also at a difficult time for Iranians or Persians, starting with the US embassy hostages that were taken by the revolutionary guard during the Carter Presidency. He said that when Carter visited Iran and endorsed the Shah, the people came to hate Carter, and kept the hostages until Ronald Reagan replaced him.
Irvine has a large and successful Persian community, as does Los Angeles. The attendees were highly supportive of Reza, and of living in a non-prejudiced society.
He pointed out that several leaders of Trump’s administration have an anti-Muslim agenda, starting with Steve Bannon’s work on Breitbart, and also including Steve Miller and others. He also mentioned other hate groups.
At the latter part of his talk, he took questions. The answers were very insightful. While Trump is criticized for his praise of Erdogan’s takeover of power in Turkey, and backing Sisi in Egypt are required by US interests, and would be the same under President Obama or any other President.
He said that the Middle East is a power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is not really a struggle between Shia and Sunni Muslims
In the US, Trump has accomplished nothing. The reason is that he is the most unpopular President. In the election, thirty million were un-excited, and did not vote. Now they are activated and opposing Trump.
The way to oppose Trump for the audience is to join Iranian Organizations that are opposing Trump, and his ban on Iranian immigration. Activism works, including calling your Congressperson. The audience strongly agreed with that.
He pointed out that Jews became accepted, by joining movements for other minorities. He said that this is what Muslims do in their religion, also.
It was an inspiring talk to me, to continue this blog and discussions on the importance of fighting Trump’s attacks on climate science, and on health research.