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Ana Kasparian (1986)

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It was on this date, July 7, 1986, that American political commentator, university instructor, lecturer and writer Ana Kasparian was born Anahit Misak Kasparian to conservative Armenian Christian parents in Los Angeles, California. The child of immigrant parents, she spoke only Armenian in her early years, saying later that watching Sesame Street on TV developed her English proficiency. She attended a “magnet school” in Van Nuys, CA, and graduated with a BA in Journalism from CSUN on 2007.

Inspired by the TV presence of Barbara Walters, and after working briefly for CBS Radio, in 2007, Kasparian and the online news/commentary broadcast The Young Turks – also called TYT – found each other. She became a fill-in host and worked her way into co-hosting the main show with Cenk Uygur. About the odd name of the show, which conflicted with her Armenian heritage – her paternal great grandparents experienced the 1915 Armenian genocide – the Turkish-born Cenk Uygur explained that the popular meaning of “young Turk” is “rebel.” This appealed to Kasparian, who felt restricted by “robotic” mainstream news shows. Feeling compelled often to express her thoughts on the news, sometimes “aggressively so,” Kasparian commented, “What I loved about the show was that it was unscripted. It was raw. It was just completely unfiltered.”

Kasparian earned her Master’s in Political Science in 2010 at age 22. She secretly married Minor League Baseball player, model, and actor Christian Lopez in 2015 in a secular ceremony. Cenk Uygur, an agnostic himself, later officiated at her public wedding. Kasparian’s own position on religion shifted over time. In December 2013, she described herself as an agnostic during an episode of the Rubin Report, saying, “As far as the whole agnostic vs. atheist thing, I just feel really uncomfortable calling myself an atheist and pretending as though I know without a shadow of a doubt that there is no higher being. The truth is, I don't know and no one really knows.”

It may be that, at the time, Kasparian was under common misinterpretation of atheism: that atheists claim to know there is no god. In fact, atheists simply behave as though there is no god because they tend not to believe before evidence.

She updated her previous position less than six months later, (April 5, 2014), while discussing a story on TYT entitled, “Atheists Win Court Case, But That Might Be a Bad Thing,” Kasparian said, “I consider myself atheist and I agree with their message, but I don’t want them to pass out the literature on campus. I certainly don’t want Christian literature, Jewish literature. I don’t care... any religion. I think that the way that you fight is by really giving the students facts, by teaching them science and teaching them about evolution. Things that have scientific evidence backing it up.”

Demonstrating to her national audience three months later that she can stand up for herself against religious bullying, Kasparian schooled a Christian pastor – who couldn’t seem to get enough of her boobs, while simultaneously objectifying them – after he criticized her on his own show. Pastor James David Manning referred to Kasparian as a “twit” whose only purpose on TYT is to show off her chest. In her withering reply, Kasparian brilliantly exposed Manning’s hypocrisy and sexism, all while staying classy.

Two years after that episode, during an August 15, 2016 episode of Current Event on the TYT Network, in a discussion on the French “burkini ban,” Kasparian fused atheism with feminism, saying, “I grew up super-religious. I grew up going to Sunday School every single Sunday from the age of three to about 17. And I’m now an atheist. And the reason why I’m an atheist is because of education. It doesn’t matter how much my parents tried to push religion on me. It doesn’t matter how much they tried to convince me that premarital sex is evil and I’m going to go to hell for it. I made my own decision because I was empowered to do so.”

Ana Kasparian continues to bring her Progressive perspective to the TYT Network each weekday via YouTube, as she has for the past 13 years.

Ronald Bruce Meyer

Our Fearless Leader.

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Week in Freethought History (July 22-28)

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