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Emotional Truths: Hasan Minhaj Stands Up Against US Magazine Exposé

In recent news, The New York published an article exposing comedian Hasan Minhaj, alleging that the comedian has exaggerated incidents of racism against him in his stand-up sets. Minhaj has now taken to his Instagram to respond to the allegation.

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Uma Bakshi
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Image sourced from Instagram (@hasanminhaj)

If you've seen Patriot Act, or any of Hasan Minhaj's work, you'd know that the US-based artist discusses his Indian heritage and the racism he's faced because of the colour of his skin in his work a lot. He offers social and political commentary on the world in the 21st century through his stand-up comedy sets, in which he often shares anecdotes from his life illustrating the main points of his set. 

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On September 15, The New Yorker published an article alleging that most of the claims he makes in his stand-up sets his famous anecdotes in which he's personally experienced racism, amongst others- were exaggerated, or simply not real. The article gained traction, with many other news publications taking it up, branding Minhaj a 'liar'. On October 26, Minhaj responded to the claims in a video posted on his Instagram account, which has since gone viral. Here's everything you need to know. 

The New Yorker Article

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On September 15, The New Yorker published an article written by Clare Malone that stirred up a lot of controversy for Hasan Minhaj, an Indian American comedian best known for his Netflix series "Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj". Titled "Hasan Minhaj's Emotional Truths," the article dissects many of the claims made by Minhaj in his sets, alleging that they were exaggerated, fabricated, and/or simply not real. Since the publication of the article, many other news publications have taken up the story, with the Hollywood Reporter writing about how "stories that The New Yorker found didn’t necessarily play out as he presented them include jokes involving one of his children and their possible exposure to anthrax and an alleged interaction with police and an FBI informant at his family’s mosque when he was a teen."

Minhaj's Response

On October 26, Minhaj responded to the claims in a video on Instagram. In the video, he says that he sat down with Clare Malone, the journalist from the New Yorker fact-checking his stand-up sets, and explained his writing and creative process behind his work. He denies the allegations, claiming that he did experience racism, threats by the FBI, and threats against him and his family- something the article says he exaggerated. He claims the article is misleading, and debunks it- "in the most Hasan Minhaj way possible," according to him. He does apologise for hurting the sentiments of his viewers with his artistic choices to drive home larger issues concerning him and his community. 

Various Reactions on the Internet

Minhaj's case is interesting. On the one hand, many artists and comedians tend to present themselves and their work as 'relatable', operating under the guise of authenticity and relatability with their audience to show us that 'they're just like us!'. On the other hand, artists and comedians aren't just like us- in Hasan Minhaj's case, most of his work is aimed at white Americans, making the gap between the art and the consumer more culturally and racially significant.

On social media, his response went viral. Minhaj, who has since deleted his account on X (formerly Twitter), is now trending on the site. In a thread, independent digital publication The Swaddle offered a very interesting insight into the discourse-

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US Racism Response Expose Patriot Act Hasan Minhaj
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