COMEDIANS TACKLING ISLAMOPHOBIA – HASAN MINHAJ AND MAZ JOBRANI

Hasan John

Hopefully this is the first of many blog posts about comedians tackling Islamophobia through their stand-up comedy. First up we have Hasan Minhaj and Maz Jobrani…

I am a firm believer in the power of comedy to change the common narrative for the better. Here’s a quote to further my point:

If you laugh, you change. If you change, the whole world changes around you. – from the documentary Laughology (2009)

And that is one reason why I keep a nerds-eye-view on the Venn diagram intersection between stand-up comedy and Islam. Crossing my line of sight recently was an article about Hasan Minhaj, arguably the most famous Muslim comedian in the world (no, Omid Djalili is not a Muslim, he is a member of the Bahai faith, and the likes of Aziz Ansari, Kumail Nanjiani, Wajahat Ali, Azhar Usman, and others, aren’t quite getting the spotlight as much as Hasan currently is).

The article is called Hasan Minhaj Tackles Islamophobia With Comedy and is about a recent comedy gig he did on December 6th 2017 in the Turner Auditorium at the Johns Hopkins University East Baltimore campus in Baltimore, Maryland. The talk was the final event of the 50th anniversary Milton S Eisenhower Symposium’s 2017 speaker series, which also saw speeches from the likes of American Muslim activist Linda Sarsour, TV news host Joy Ann Reid, and Ohio governor John Kasich.

As well as being a regular throughout 2017 on the Daily Show With Trevor Noah, earlier this year Hasan hosted the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and on December 4th 2017 he was named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Global Re-Thinkers. FP claimed that “at a difficult time for Muslims and immigrants in America, Minhaj has found an effective way to describe a side of the United States that its current president ignores and rejects.” In the FP article Hasan describes himself as “an angry optimist” whilst FP describes him as “the 32-year-old pompadoured Daily Show correspondent,” “an avatar of the bizarre political moment,” “a protagonist of the American narrative,” and more importantly “the right comedian for the wrong time.”

Maz Cover

All of this reminded me of similar articles where Muslim comedians use their comedy to point out the growing Islamophobia that exists all around us today. One such article that came to mind is called Fighting Islamophobia With Comedy. Written way back in March 2015, this particular article is about the comedian Maz Jobrani, another American comedian who is rather effectively using his humour to tackle anti-Islamic bigotry.

As well as an acclaimed comedian, Maz is also an actor and author (his book I’m Not A Terrorist, But I’ve Played One On TV: Memoirs Of A Middle Eastern Funny Man was released in 2015). More recently he hilariously hosted the 45th International Emmy Awards Gala in November 2017 in New York:

Anyways, as always the two main articles mentioned above are well worth reading in full, and a selection of my favourite quotes from these articles are presented below. Enjoy!


Fighting Islamophobia With Comedy

Robin Wright, 08 Mar 2015, Atlantic Monthly

Maz Jobrani is challenging extremist ideology and Muslim stereotypes, one punchline at a time. – Robin Wright

Jobrani’s journey reflects both the problems and the potential in using comedy to bridge the cultural chasm produced by Islamic extremism. In growing numbers, America’s Muslim comedians are using a sassy brand of humor to reach across the abyss. In the United States, their shticks both ridicule extremism within their own faith and challenge American stereotypes of Muslims. – Robin Wright

Comedy turns out to be a sly way of challenging autocratic rule and a potent antidote to the sophisticated social media campaigns of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. – Robin Wright

He lambasted the 2009 Christmas Day bomber who tried to blow up a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, noting that the bomb carried in his underwear was proof that the guy was an idiot. Jobrani imagined the final conversation between the hijacker and his terror-masters. “Ah, excuse me. I have one, ah, one last question for you,” the terrorist says. “You say my reward in heaven will be seventy-two virgins. So do you think, maybe, we could put the bomb somewhere else? I mean, I really think I’m going to need my penis.” The crowd roared. – Robin Wright

Jobrani and other Muslim comedians take their mission as seriously as their craft. “For us,” Jobrani once told me, “the goal is not simply to make people laugh. It’s also to have people, when they leave the show, go, ‘Wow, that guy was funny, and he was Middle Eastern, and he didn’t try to kidnap or hijack us.” – Robin Wright

Comedy comes from tragedy, and being Iranian in America from 1979 on had been quite tragic. In stand-up comedy, I was able to take the reality and exaggerate it. – Maz Jobrani

Comedy was therapy for both Muslim performers and non-Muslim audiences. “As the weeks went on, I realized there was an important role comedy would play in healing the tragedies of September 11. Comedy can help people cope,” he wrote, “and many people were coming to the clubs to laugh out the stress.” Comedy brought back “a voice of reason to an irrational time.” – Robin Wright


Hasan Minhaj Tackles Islamophobia With Comedy

Emily McDonald, 07 Dec 2017, John Hopkins News Letter

NB All the quotes below are from Hasan Minhaj.

I can’t speak to my mom in Urdu on a plane, because people are afraid of terrorism. Fear of terrorism is the reason why we don’t let refugees into the country. We’re currently on our third travel ban because of that fear.

There is a double standard in the way terrorist attacks are portrayed in the media today. White terrorists are usually called “lone wolves,” while Muslim terrorists are branded as part of a terrorist organization. How is every crazy white dude just part wolf? How are all these guys just coincidentally Team Jacob? I don’t get the double standard. A brown dude goes crazy, we get teamed up. A white dude goes crazy: 12 individual wolves have gone cuckoo — if only there was a pattern.

The term “terrorism” is used disproportionately to describe acts of violence by people of color. There are over 100 definitions of the word terrorist, but in 2017 it’s been racialized to basically mean brown people, right? People who look like me, with beards. Coded language to describe things we’re afraid of is used a lot. You turn the news on, you hear words like ‘thug,’ ‘gangster,’ ‘illegal,’ ‘president.’

After the recent mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert, CNN was quick to question whether the attack was the work of ISIS or another terrorist organization, with little evidence to support the claim. I don’t expect anything more from CNN, they write headlines the way my dad writes emails. 1000-point font, incomplete sentences, random conspiracy theories. Vegas Shooter ISIS? Hasan Call Home, Mom Misses You.

Statistically, people in the United States are very unlikely to die of foreign terrorism. This statistic plays a key role in the refugee debate. How likely are you to die of foreign terrorism? Because that’s the crux of the debate. You are more likely to die from choking, lightning, crossing the street, furniture. You’re literally more likely to be killed by furniture than a terrorist organization. Despite these statistics, many Americans still oppose allowing refugees to immigrate into the country. People are still scared of terrorism, because I’m giving you a rational argument to an irrational fear, and we know that never works. We all argue with family members on Facebook. We love irrational fear in America, we’ve got other ones besides brown people: zika, Tsars, swine flu, anthrax, shark attacks, pirates.

A common argument made against the immigration of refugees is the idea that they do not share typical “American values.” If Muslims really don’t adopt American values, why do 92 percent of them say they’re proud to be American? Why do 72 percent of them say you get ahead with hard work? Why do 82 percent say they’re concerned about extremism? And why do U.S. Muslims accept gay marriage more than Republicans?

Immigration and diversity are fundamentally American values. The real question isn’t whether refugees can accept American values. It’s whether Americans can accept American values. Immigration is a fundamental American right, and yet it doesn’t get the same applause or attention as, say, freedom of speech or guns. We’re a nation of refugees, immigrants and free thinkers.

The current screening process for Syrian refugees includes an intensive background check and a two-year waiting period. If these people are willing to wait in line for over two years to enter this country, we owe it to them to at least look at their application.

The beauty of letting everybody in, no matter where we come from, as long as they go through proper procedures, is that people can practice their religion how they choose, not how someone else chooses. And when it comes to American Islam, that’s where it’s taken shape in really dope and innovative ways.

If after all that, you still want to ban refugees or Muslims, the reality of the situation is that we’re already here. We already control every aspect of your life. Think about it: food, transportation, medicine. We’ve got it on lock. We could’ve gotten you on every corner, but we didn’t. So you’re welcome, America.

Comedians are playing a more significant role in reporting and commenting on current events. The big thing that a lot of comedians are forced to do is, we’re forced to do things like primary reporting. Like CNN and Fox News, that’s where you go to get your sketch comedy on…It’s like bizarro-world, CNN is Comedy Central and comedians are like, ‘Why aren’t you reporting the truth?’ It’s forced all of us to elevate our game.

I like the recent increase in diversity in comedy. I think it’s awesome to get every single different perspective, because a lot of times you’ve got your blinders on, and there are blind spots we all have to different communities. I will say I think we need more female voices of color in comedy.

Advertisements

ONLY THE LONELY DON’T SMILE

Muslim Woman Alone

Along with watching all the fancy TV adverts, it seems there is a new Christmas tradition: highlighting the issue of loneliness at this time of year. For many, Christmas is about joy and time spent with their families. For others, it can be one of the loneliest times of the year.

Whilst this tradition of highlighting loneliness has been around for several years, especially among charities such as Age UK, this year the issue has taken even greater prescience due to the findings of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission. The Commission is named after the British politician who was brutally murdered in June 2016 by a white extremist (I wrote about this tragedy in a previous blog post). Jo was in the middle of setting up the Commission to combat loneliness before her tragic death.

Her hope for the Commission was to turbo-charge public awareness of loneliness. She wanted everybody, all across society, to understand more about the extent of loneliness and then, together, to do something about it in our communities, as individuals, as employers, and through greater political leadership. One of the reasons why Jo wanted to set up the Commission was, as she said:

Young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate. – Jo Cox

Jo Loneliness

The study from the Commission, officially released Friday 15th December 2017, has presented many interesting findings around the subject of loneliness. Among many things it is calling on the government to fund new ways of battling loneliness. Labour MP Rachel Reeves, co-chair of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission, said:

Loneliness is no longer just a personal misfortune but has grown into a social epidemic. If we can tackle it effectively we can make Britain not just a happier but also a healthier country in which to live. – Rachel Reeves

The Commission has started a much wider debate on the subject. For example, the Chief Nursing Officer for England Jane Cummings said:

Loneliness can have a devastating impact. Evidence shows that social isolation increases the risk of premature death by around a third. – Jane Cummings

Whilst loneliness has been called a social epidemic and a public health crisis, Deborah Moggach, author of the novel adapted for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films about retired people from the UK going to India, says that:

Loneliness really is the last taboo. – Deborah Moggach

A quick read of other articles on loneliness reveals that it can be devastating mentally and physically. Loneliness is so damaging to health it is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being obese. Being lonely is associated with an impaired immune system, it causes an increased incidence of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. It raises levels of cortisol in the body which can lead to depression and anxiety. Long term loneliness can lead to stress, paranoia, coronary heart disease, substance misuse, eating issues, sleep disturbance, cognitive deterioration (dementia), arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, and even attempted suicides.

There are economic costs too. Researchers estimate that loneliness damages our national economy, to the tune of £32bn per annum. Another view point suggests that the epidemic of loneliness costs £6,000 per person in health costs and pressure on local services. But the London School of Economics study of older people also says that for every £1 spent in preventing loneliness there are £3 of savings.

The Jo Cox Loneliness Commission concludes by suggesting that the UK needs a national strategy to combat loneliness across all ages, and a corresponding ‘minister for loneliness’ needs to be appointed who would be responsible for implementing the strategy. With this in mind the aforementioned Rachel Reeves said, in a recent article for Prospect magazine:

The crisis of loneliness exposes the limits of our welfare system. If William Beveridge was alive today, I believe he would identify loneliness as one of his great evils. Alongside the need for bread and health he would add the need for attachment and connection. And he’d follow up on his belief in voluntary action and give more power and control to people. – Rachel Reeves, from an article in Prospect magazine (Lord Beveridge, a noted progressive and social reformer, was also one of the founding fathers of the modern British welfare state, i.e. the NHS)

So how does loneliness relate to smiling? At the time of reading all these articles on loneliness, I came across a 5 minute audio clip of my favourite Muslim scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf talking about how people don’t smile anymore, and how this is related to an increased number of us being more and more alone.

This sense of loneliness goes against the general principle of how Muslims should live their lives. Islam is a community based religion. We have the concept of the ummah, the global Muslim community, to which we are all spiritually connected to. From a young age we are taught that prayer offered in congregation is more rewarding than prayer offered alone. We are taught that it is better for us to have a teacher, a Shaykh, so that we can learn from a living breathing person, rather than sitting alone and reading from a lifeless book.

Also around this time I watched a documentary on the BBC called Attenborough And The Giant Elephant, about the famous elephant Jumbo. David Attenborough explained how Jumbo, when he was in London and isolated and had no contact at all with other elephants, would often have night terrors. However, when Jumbo was shipped out to America he was placed in a circus and found himself in the company of other elephants. The night terrors completely stopped immediately. So even elephants are community based creatures.

Smile Cushion

Islam is also a religion that encourages us to smile, something the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did often. In fact, in Islam smiling is not only considered a sunnah (a recommended act of the Prophet for us to follow) but it is also recognised as an act of charity (more on this in a previous blog post).

Pope Francis also recently said that smiling more is one of the three ways people can find happiness during this festive season. Add to this the recent scientific news that, according to the journal Psychology Of Sport And Exercise, smiling while working out can lead to a more productive workout. So the more you grin and bear it, literally, the healthier you become. It all bodes well for us to smile more.

Anyways, here is the aforementioned lecture by the always brilliant Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. Enjoy!


When Shaykh Khathri came from Mauritania to America he said that he noticed nobody smiled. Because one of the things about Mauritania is, and Sidi Ibrahim knows this, you got out in the desert and they are all smiling, right? People smile all the time because smiling is actually part of fitra (your natural instinct). The Prophet (SAW) smiled all the time. One of his names is ad-dahhak, the one who always smiles. He smiled all time. One of the sahabah (companions) said, “From the day I became Muslim I never once saw the Messenger of Allah except he smiled.” From the day he became Muslim he said “I never once saw the Messenger of Allah except he smiled.” It’s actually fitra to smile. If you see somebody, you know, this is a human being, you smile, he smiles, you feel good, he feels good, right?

And then you get these people, [serious tone] “As-salaam-alaikum brother.” Seriously! You go into the masjid and that’s what you hear, [serious tone] “As-salaam-alaikum brother.”

Just try a little harder on that one, just a little harder, like [polite tone] “As-salaam-alaikum”. You don’t even have to…Seriously, some people, it’s like getting a tooth out of them, or something, to get a salaam with a smile.

But he said that the reason he thinks nobody smiles is because he said he noticed they do everything alone. So he said they have shayateen (demons) with them and they get depressed. Because shaytaan (the devil) rides alone…There is a hadith (a saying of the Prophet), somebody who rides alone is a shaytaan, and two of them, two shaytaans, three is company.

You look in the West, everybody in their cars alone. And who are they listening to? Shaytaan on the radio. It’s amazing, they’re listening to shaytaan. And they’re driving alone. And then they go to work and they sit behind a cubicle alone. They don’t talk to anybody. In California they say “Send me an email.” They don’t even want to talk to them physically. They tell them “Send me an email.” Some of them have a sign, they just hold up a sign, they won’t even say anything.

Shaykh Khathri, when he was in New York, he said the strangest thing he saw, they were in a traffic jam, all these cars, and he said he looked over and he saw a car go in this place and it turned around and then he said it stopped, it rolled down it’s window and it spoke to a box. And then he said the box spoke back to him in a clear tongue. And then he said the car drove up a little further and he said some hands came out of a window with a white box. And he said he gave him money and they didn’t say anything to each other. He said he spoke to the box and he didn’t speak to the person. It was a fast-food restaurant.

But he was just looking at it, just seeing it for the first time. You see, you grew up seeing this, thinking it’s normal. It’s not normal, it’s neuroses, it’s a sickness. This is actually pathology. And somebody in fitra can see it for what it is, but people that are out of fitra they can’t see it. That’s what he said.

They go to work and then they go home and they eat alone. If one person eats alone shaytaan eats with you. And shaytaan just gets stronger and stronger. That’s the thing about shaytaan, people don’t realize this, shaytaan gets strong with heedlessness, he gets weak with dhikr (remembrance of Allah). The more ghaflah (heedlessness), he gets strong physically because he’s eating…if you don’t do dhikr when you eat, like say “Bismillah,” he eats with you. And he gets fat, he has energy because he’s got caloric strength. But if you say “Bismillah” then he can’t eat, he starts getting weak and withers away. If you say “Bismillah” when you go into your house, he can’t sleep with you.

There are two shaytaans, and this is from a sound hadith, they met, one was weak, the other was strong. He said “What’s the matter with you?” He said “I have a horrible assignment. Every time he eats he says ‘Bismillah,’ when he sleeps he says ‘Bismillah,’ when he goes to his wife he says ‘Bismillah.’ I’m not getting any strength.” He said “Oh, I’ve got a good one. He never says ‘Bismillah.’ I eat as all I want. When he goes home I have a nice bed to sleep in.”

So now look at the whole world. I mean, Christians they used to say “Bless us Lord for these gifts which we are about to receive.” They used to say that, and insha-Allah (God willing) it benefitted them. They don’t say that now, they just gobble it down. And so the shayateen are getting bigger and bigger.

And now they can just say they are shayateen, they actually can say it now. Really. They come out literally and say it, like rock bands. They say that “We are Satan.” I mean, they literally announce it. I saw this guy, he had a thing, “I worship Satan,” literally on his t-shirt. He had spiked hair, and it said on his t-shirt “I worship Satan.”

And this is happening in Christian lands, they used to be anyway. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf


PS I realised after posting the above that I had previously mentioned a Shaykh Hamza Yusuf quote where he spoke about the Prophet (S) smiling…

Our Prophet was not somebody who was sombre. In fact one of his names is ad-dahhak, the smiling one. He smiled a lot. But he is also da-i-mul-ahzan, a deeply contemplative person, someone who was in profound meditation with his Lord. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

 

I’m In A Shaykh Hamza Yusuf State Of Mind

Shaykh Hamza Smiling

The multi award-winning American singer and song-writer Billy Joel one sang that he was is a New York state of mind. Well, today I am in a Shaykh Hamza Yusuf state of mind. Don’t know why I am but I just am. Maybe it’s because I’ve been listening to a few of his lectures recently and that’s put me in a good mood. Or maybe I’m in a good mood because Trump and his cronies lost the Alabama Senate election. Or maybe it’s because the weather is turning for the better after a few hellish days of bitter cold and ice. As always, God knows best.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad I’m feeling this way because it gives me an excuse to present some quotes by the great man himself. We begin with 5 quotes from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, followed by 10 funny quotes from others. Enjoy!


We do not reflect anymore, there is an absence of reflection. One of the reasons we do not reflect is that we have become a nation of entertainment. For example, many people know a lot about sports, movies, music, etc, but yet these same people know nothing about the national debt, or about foreign policy. There is not much focus on analysis or thinking on important issues. – adapted from a speech by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

We are becoming infant monsters, because we get what we want. And then we become impatient when we don’t get what we want. That’s the current human condition. And that’s why everybody out there is in this state of stress and anxiety. They are so used to getting what they want now. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

There is a hadith that says speed is from shaytaan and caution is from Allah. Why does shaytaan want us to speed up? He wants us to speed up because the faster you go the more likely you are going to trip up. The faster you speak the more likely you are going to make mistakes. The faster you run the more likely you are going to trip and fall. The faster your computers go the more likely they are going to do things that are going to harm you. – adapted from a speech by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The Prophet (S) is the spiritual mechanism of photosynthesis in our world. He is this light that comes from the heavens, and it comes into the prism of prophecy and it transmits this extraordinary spectrum of light that becomes visible, because real light is invisible, you cannot see it, we cannot see white light, we only see traces of it, we can’t see a photon, we can’t see it. But when it goes through the prism, suddenly it becomes visible…His spiritual photosynthesis is resonating throughout this whole world. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The meaning or the purpose of our life on this planet is to understand the intentions of Allah in creating us. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf


I think kids are great. I’ve got two kids. I’ve got a 4-year old boy who is the most important thing in the world to me. He really is. Especially now that I heard my kidneys might be on their way out. – Frankie Boyle

That Jesus movie came out, The Passion Of The Christ, and Jews didn’t want people to see it. Because they felt that everybody blames the Jews for killing Christ and then the Jews tried to pass it off on the Romans. But I’m one of the few people that believes it was the blacks. – Sarah Silverman

I saw a clown doing sit-ups. Funny how things work out. – Russell Kane

I was watching the London Marathon and saw one runner dressed as a chicken and another runner dressed as an egg. I thought, this could be interesting. – Paddy Lennox

If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets. If the average person could see the Virgin Airlines first-class lounge, they’d go, ‘What? What? This is food, and it’s free, and they…what? Massage? Are you kidding me?’ – Chris Rock

An independent Scotland would no longer have to invade places like Afghanistan for American interests. We’d invade them for heroin. Because I don’t support America’s wars. I don’t even think they ARE wars. They’re one-way traffic, mass murder. There’s never been a time when a shepherd has beaten a helicopter. You never switch on the news to see, “A shock result in Afghanistan today when a missile was destroyed by a wedding.” Because not only will America go to your country and kill all your people but what’s worse, I think, is they’ll come back 20 years later and make a movie about how killing your people made their soldiers feel sad. Oh, boo-hoo-hoo! Americans making a movie about what Vietnam did to their soldiers is like a serial killer telling you what stopping suddenly for hitchhikers did to his clutch. – Frankie Boyle

Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out alive. – Elbert Hubbard

Everything in life that’s any fun, as somebody wisely observed, is either immoral, illegal or fattening. – P G Wodehouse

Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half. – Gore Vidal

He is a sane man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head. – G K Chesterton

TRUMP IS TOTALLY ARACHNOPHOBIC. BUT OF MUSLIMS.

Paul Chowdhry

As usual there is much going on in the world. Trump continues to use his daily tweets to change the political weather, whether we like it or not, as his self-made Russian noose continues to tighten around his neck. Killings still continue in Pakistan, this time in a Peshawar university. A McDonald’s branch apparently refused to serve a woman because she was wearing a hijab. A teacher reported a six year old Muslim with Down’s for terrorism. An Afghan girls’ robotics team won a top European competition. Despite my earlier commentary on princesses, the world seems mesmerized by a new mixed-race American princess who is willing to marry an all-white ginger-haired prince (I guess opposites do attract). Anything else I can think of? Oh yes, how can I forget? Now, well into the 21st century, in Libya we have open slave markets, with Muslims buying and selling Muslims. Keep on rocking in the free world.

And through all this and everything else happening in the big wide world, I am trying my darnedest to make sense of it all. Therefore at times like this I listen to what others have to say. Their opinions and analysis help me to better understand the complexities of the news. In that light, please find below some selected videos you hopefully will find interesting.

First up we have the brilliant American author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who grew in popularity writing articles about Trump and racism in the States for the Atlantic Monthly. During a recent event where he was promoting his book We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy, he humorously explains why certain words, specifically the n-word, belong only to certain people.

Then we have comedian Paul Chowdhry, supporting a rather fetching beard on The Russell Howard Hour, giving us some of his thoughts on ISIS and terrorism. The video following this is also about terrorism, cleverly showing how things are not what they seem, and how easy it is to mix up the good guy and the bad guy. And last but by no means first we have another comedian, Hasan Minhaj, appearing on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, giving his views on the recent retweeting by Trump of Britain First.

As always transcripts of my favourite bits are presented. Enjoy!


Ta-Nehisi Coates

Words do not have meaning without context. My wife refers to me as “honey.” That is accepted and okay between us. If we were walking down the street together and a strange woman referred to me as “honey” that would not be acceptable. The understanding is that I have some sort of relationship with my wife. Hopefully I have no relationship with this strange woman.

When I was young and I used to go see my family in Philadelphia, where my dad was from, they would all call him Billy. His name was William Paul Coates. No one in Baltimore, however, called him Billy, and had I referred to my father as Billy that probably would have been a problem. That is because the relationship between myself and my dad is not the same as the relationship between my dad and his mother and his sisters who he grew up with. We understand that. It is the same thing with words within the African-American community, or within any community.

My wife, with her girlfriends, will use the word “bitch.” I do not join in. I do not say “Hey, I want to join in…” I do not do that. And perhaps more importantly I do not have a desire to do that.

A while ago Dan Savage, who is openly gay, was going to have a show that he was going to call “Hey, Faggot!” I am not going to yell “faggot” in Dan’s house, I am just not, that is not my relationship with the LGBTQ community, and I understand that and I am okay with that. I do not have a desire to yell out the word “faggot,” I just do not have that.

The question one must ask is, if that is accepted and normal for groups of people to use certain words that are derogatory in an ironic fashion, why is there so much hand-wringing when black people do it? Black people are basically, however you feel about it, not outside of the normal rules and laws for humanity.

I had a good friend and we used to have this cabin in upstate New York which he referred to as “the white trash cabin.” He was white. I would never refer to that cabin in that way, I would never tell him “I am coming to your white trash cabin.” I just would not do that. And I think you understand why I would not do that.

The question one must therefore ask is, why are so many white people having difficulty extending things that are basic laws of how human beings interact to black people? And I think I know why. When you are white in this country you are taught that everything belongs to you. You think you have a right to everything, you have a right to go where you want. You are conditioned this way. It is not because your hair is not textured or your skin is light. It is the fact that the laws and the culture tell you this. You have a right to go where you want to go, do what you want to do, be however you want to be, and other people, non-white people, have just got to accommodate themselves to you. So here comes this word that you feel like you invented and then I, a black person, will tell you how to use the word that you invented!

“Why can’t I use it? Everyone else gets to use it. That is racism that I do not get to use it. That is racist against me. I have to inconvenience myself and hear this hip-hop song, with this word in it, and I can’t sing along? How come I can’t sing along?”

I think for white people the experience of being a hip-hop fan and not being able to use the word “nigger” is actually very, very insightful. It will give you just a little peek into the world of what it means to be black, because to be black is to walk through the world and watch people doing things that you cannot do, that you cannot join in and do. And so I think there is actually a lot to be learned from refraining. – adapted from a speech made by Ta-Nehisi Coates


Paul Chowdhry

As-salaam-alaikum my brothers and sisters. Welcome to the conversion…Just grew a beard…I’ve got that kind of straight-out-of-Syria look. I’ve got that one-way-ticket look. – Paul Chowdhry

ISIS claim everything now. “We did it.” No you didn’t. “George Michael? We did it. Harambe? We did it.” What? You killed a gorilla in America a year ago?…Do you remember that Harambe incident? The kid dropped in and people were like “Oh my God! They shouldn’t have shot the gorilla, they should have shot the parents.”  That’s a good idea, innit. Let’s shoot the parents. Now the kid has got two dead parents, and he’s living with a fucking gorilla. – Paul Chowdhry

Doesn’t help with my look either…I can’t even get into America anymore…Last time I tried to get into America I went with my mate Dave and I said to Dave “How are we gonna get in?” And Dave said “Just say what I do for a living, we’ll both get in.” “Alright mate.” “Just copy me and we’ll both get in.” Then Dave gets to the desk and they go “So what do you do for a living?” Dave goes “I work in recruitment…” – Paul Chowdhry


Are Muslims Terrorists?


Hasan Minhaj

Trump does have some very specific fears. For example, he’s totally arachnophobic. But of Muslims. – Trevor Noah

[Referring to deputy leader of Britain First Jayda Fransen] One question maam, if you are so proud of being white then why do you use all that fake tan? – Trevor Noah

Here’s what pisses me off, these random videos are either totally out of context or straight-up false. This fringe British group wants people to think brown boogeymen are coming to kill them. They recently shared a viral photo of ISIS fighters but it wasn’t ISIS. It was Ice Cube. You idiots! You’re mixing up your ices. It’s ridiculous…The point is the president is retweeting false videos to stoke up Islamophobia. – Hasan Minhaj

Here’s my thing. Trump doesn’t need to send out these fake stories about Muslims. If Trump needs incriminating video of Muslims, ask Muslims! Ask me. I got plenty of dirt on my phone. Show my dad returning used underwear at Costco. Show my mom telling my aunt were ten minutes away when we haven’t left the house yet. Show my cousin lying to his parents about having a white girlfriend over Thanksgiving. Now that’s a viral video and that’s real Sahil. I shouldn’t have said his name, I’m sorry. I fucked up. I shouldn’t have said his name. – Hasan Minhaj