Muslim religious scholar Reza Aslan appeared on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Monday night and discussed Ben Carson's religious test for Muslims and the presidency with panelists Jeffrey Lord of The American Spectator and former Cruz staffer Amanda Carpenter. Aslan said he's not surprised by the "anti-Muslim" comments, just that it took this long to happen.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: As a religious scholar and a Muslim-American, what is your reaction when you hear Dr. Carson saying that he wouldn't support the idea of a Muslim president?
REZA ASLAN: I'm not that surprised. In fact, the only thing I'm surprised about is the Muslim-bashing has taken this long to come out in the GOP field. I mean, in 2012 we had Herman Cain saying he would never have a Muslim serve on his cabinet, we had Newt Gingrich promising a constitutional amendment banning Sharia in this country. And, frankly, you know, the comments of Trump and particularly Dr. Carson, I think are going to be rewarded in the GOP field.
The Carson campaign has already boasted that 24 hours after making that comment, they've got 100,000 new Facebook followers. I think the numbers are going to go up and I think as a result, you're going to see other candidates sort of playing this game, as well. Xenophobia, anti-Muslim bashing in the modern GOP today, sadly, that's how you get votes.
Jeffrey Lord of The American Spectator chimed in and said everyone is talking about Ben Carson and Donald Trump when it comes to the "Obama is a Muslim" controversy, but the "drive-by" media ignores the fact the rumors were started by the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2008.
COOPER: Jeffrey, you are dodging the essential question, which is is it responsible for Donald Trump eight years after even if Hillary Clinton introduced this idea to still be talking about it?
JEFFREY LORD: You know, I mean, this is a choice of firestorms. Why are we talking about Donald Trump and not Hillary Clinton? She's a candidate in this race. Anderson, I have to say we got, what, 92 million people out of the work force. This is the kind of conversation people like us have.
Here in central Pennsylvania people aren't interested in this kind of thing. They are trying to get jobs, pay mortgages, do all that sort of thing. This is the kind of conversation that we talk about among ourselves in the media.
I would add one last thing, I've said before, this is what Rush Limbaugh calls the drive-by [media], you know, we pull up, we shoot and cause all this excitement on a topic and move onto the next one and that's what's happening here and that's what's going to continue to happen.