February 2007 (touched up in March 2013)
Occasionally we hear someone argue that a confict is political rather than religious, for example the conflct between Israelis and Arabs. The latest comes from Reza Aslan, author of No god but God, seen debating Sam Harris on C-SPAN2. Social conflicts can consistent of at least two elements, and take away either of them and, voila, no conflict. Reza Aslan has a lot of academic titles, but he still thinks in simplistic absolutes: either something is A or B, not a combination. He thereby misses that a conflct can be both political and religious and that religious differences do indeed play a role in the Arab-Israeli conflict – which is not to say that it must or that politics does not play a role.
Aslan is intelligent, learned and does right in attacking ignorance about Islam, but as an aside I'll take this opportunity to complain about his repeated passionate pronouncement in the above debate that his opponent was "profoundly unsophisticated." There is no such thing as a profound lack of sophistication. There were a hundred fallacious statements made by Reza Aslan in the debate. He might have some sophistication, but he still needs to learn how to think – not always a requisite in obtaining a degree.
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