CNN reporter Reza Aslan found himself in deep waters when he consumed human brains on TV, but probably not for the reason you’d expect.
My friend and I were sitting on the couch, flipping through TV channels absentmindedly, when we saw it. My friend paused, his thumb hovering over the TV remote, his face darkening as CNN’s latest segment lit up the screen.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said, almost as if out of nowhere.
I looked over at him, confused, then looked back to the TV. I didn’t recognize the journalist or any of the other people on the screen. I didn’t know what they were doing, either, but it didn’t take me long to find out.
Aslan sampled the dish while filming a new show series called “Believer.” This particular episode was about an extremely small sect of Hinduism that practice cannibalism. While some might commend him for being brave or committed to his job, others were upset with the way he characterized the religion.
“Now people who haven’t been exposed to Hinduism is going to think this is what it is,” my friend, an Indian-American with Hindu relatives, explained. “Almost nobody actually does this.”
My friend’s frustration is pretty understandable, especially if you consider the recent influx of violence against South Asians and people of South Asian descent in this country. He worried that this could increase the divide.
But he’s not the only one who has something to say about it. Tulsi Gabbard, a Hindu congresswoman from Hawaii, slammed the segment on Twitter.
Many people applauded Gabbard for bring attention to the issue and pointing out just why the episode was so fucked up.
Gabbard has a point — the Hindu community is little understood in today’s society, and showing that particular slice of it without any other context could be potentially harmful, especially in today’s political climate.
Hopefully next time Aslan will consider giving viewers a more complete picture before he criticizes a certain religion or society.