If you’ve spent anytime on Facebook at all the last few days, you’ve probably seen a Buzzfeed link called “Is This The Most Embarrassing Interview Fox News Has Ever Done?” In the attached video clip, author Reza Aslan—author of a new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth—is asked such probing questions as “Why would a Muslim write a book about Christianity?” and “No really, why?” and “Double-dog dare you to tell me why you wrote this book.” (We may be guilty of hyperbole here.)
Since then, the Buzzfeed page featuring the video has been viewed nearly four million times. Mr. Aslan quickly amassed an additional 5,000 Twitter followers. On Monday, Random House, Mr. Aslan’s publisher, said the interview had clearly helped the book: in two days, sales increased 35 percent.
On Friday, “Zealot” was in the No. 8 spot on Amazon.com, the nation’s biggest seller of books; by Sunday, it had hit No. 1.
Random House is rushing to meet the surge in demand for the book. On Monday, the publisher ordered 50,000 copies, bringing the total to 150,000 copies in print by the end of the week.
So there’s that.
What’s interesting about the kerfuffle is that Fox News’ viewership surely contains more than a few Americans who, after 9/11, never read the Koran but read half-baked neoconservative books about the Muslim religion that have these same Americans convinced they understand Islam better than Muslims do. Apparently it never occurred to them that outsiders might be curious about the origins of Christianity.