Hasan Minhaj is a Muslim standup comedian. Much of his shtick is about the slings and arrows, and the ill-concealed hate, that he, as a Muslim, must endure. But an investigation of the claims he makes in his act, just published in The New Yorker, shows that he is also a serial liar. For he’s not interested in the “truth,” but in something deeper, that is, the “emotional truth” that apparently justifies the lies that help us understand that deeper truth. Robert Spencer wrote about this briefly here, and more on the unapologetic mythomane can be found here: “Four disappointing revelations about Hasan Minhaj’s ’emotional truths,’” by Nardos Haile, Salon, September 15, 2023:
Hasan Minhaj is a cool, funny guy [I beg to differ]. He is supposed to be your approachable brown comedian. His lived experiences as a Muslim American and an Asian American comic are supposed to draw us in as an audience and contextualize what xenophobia and racism look like in the life of an average, charismatic American man.
But in The New Yorker profile, Minhaj’s golden-boy image is tainted by fabrications or what he calls “emotional truths” in his comedy. Basically, the comedian is not really concerned with relating faked events that he claims are true in his sets as long as the emotional truth is what is genuine and lands for the audience. Not only does the profile accuse him of fabricating stories for his stand-up specials but it addresses whisperings of a toxic and misogynistic workplace environment behind the scenes of his now-canceled Netflix commentary show “Patriot Act.”
Here are four of the most disappointing revelations about Hasan Minhaj’s “emotional truths” profile:
In Minhaj’s 2022 Netflix standup special, “The King’s Jester” he tells the story of an FBI informant who infiltrated his family’s mosque in 2002. Minhaj paints the picture of an athletic white man named Brother Eric who converted to Islam to gain the trust of and embed himself in the Sacramento Muslim community. Minhaj supposedly had Brother Eric pegged as a fraud from the start and even told him a tale to take back to the FBI, which supposedly led Minhaj to be roughed up by the police against the hood of a car. But all of these claims were fake.
It turns out that Brother Eric was indeed an FBI informant in Muslim communities pretending to be a personal trainer. His real name was Craig Monteilh, and he told The New Yorker that Minhaj’s claims aren’t true. “I have no idea why he would do that,” said Monteilh, who was in prison in 2002, and didn’t begin to work for the FBI on counterterrorism measures until 2006. Furthermore, he said he had only worked in Southern California, not in the Sacramento area.
Minhaj claimed that the mosque his family attended in Sacramento had been infiltrated by an FBI informant, one Craig Monteilh, in 2002. The point of Minhaj’s story was to show how scary it is to be a Muslim in America after 9/11, with FBI informants watching your every move, even infiltrating the mosque you attend. But that police informant, Craig Monteilh, has said that he could not possibly have been an informant in 2002 — in that year, he was in prison. Nor did he ever work in Sacramento; as an informant he worked only in southern California. He has “no idea” why Minhaj would make up such a story, but we have a very good idea: he wants his audience to sympathize with him, as an innocent target of FBI anti-Muslim animus and suspicion. But since he never has been such a target. he simply made up a story to fit the bill, appropriating the name of an FBI informant he read about in the media, changing both the date and place of his employ. And even if Minhaj had never himself had such an informant in his family’s mosque, well, so what? Other Muslims have, so it was the “emotional truth” he was offering his audience, so much more meaningful than the mere “truth.”
Another fabrication from Minhaj’s comedy is one about baby anthrax. After the comedian did a reported segment on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalism — someone sent a letter to his home which was filled with white powder. He then claims the powder spilled on his young daughter and she was rushed to the hospital. While it turned out not to be anthrax, Minhaj claimed that the point was that he had received such a threat in the first place for his powerful work.
Minhaj admitted to The New Yorker that his daughter had never been exposed to a white powder at all nor had she been hospitalized. But he insisted, “The punch line is worth the fictionalized premise.” What was that hilarious punch line?…
So Minhaj now admits that there never had been any “white powder sent to his house in an attempt to scare him into silence. And his daughter never was hospitalized. It was all made up. Minhaj now claims that he had received a “threat” in the past because of how “powerful” his work was — you know, his devastating humor is a threat to anti-Muslim bigots everywhere. So although he made up the story, out of whole cloth, his lies did express an “emotional truth” that the mere “truth” — that there hadn’t been any attempt to scare him with a white powder — could not possibly convey.
Minhaj also tells a story of racism. He made a date with a “white girl” to take her to a high school prom; she had accepted, but then, on the night of the prom, Minhaj claims she refused to go with him because of the objections of her racist parents.
The high school crush counters his narrative though, saying that she turned down Minhaj before the dance in person, which Minhaj also confirmed. He added that the two of them “had long carried different understandings of her rejection.”…
When the girl whom he claimed had accepted, and then rejected, Minhaj’s prom invitation, was interviewed, she insisted that she had turned Minhaj down when he had first invited her; there had been no change of heart, and her parents had not interfered in any way. Minhaj, caught in a web of his own making, has confirmed her version of events, though he says that there had been “different understandings of her rejection” without explaining what he means by that.
In his standup routine, Minhaj revealed the names both of the girl and of her parents, painting them as anti-Muslim bigots. That has led, over the years, to threats being made against them on social media. Not only did Minhaj identify them by name in his routine, but he also used a photo of the girl, her face imperfectly blurred. When she implored Minhaj to stop using her, and her parents’, real names, and holding them up as examples of bigotry, Minhaj simply ignored her.
Yes, Minhaj likes to make up his timelines to express his “emotional truth,” the deeper truth of “what it felt like.” He has been claiming that he went to the Saudi Embassy to discuss a possible interview with the Saudi Crown Prince, that there was an undertone of threat — he claimed “the Saudis told him they didn’t ‘want to be made fun of by a comedian and that they’d be watching him’” — which became all too real when he found out that on that same day, Jamal Khashoggi had been killed. Except, of course, he hadn’t — Khashoggi was killed more than a month after Minhaj’s meeting at the Embassy. That was the “truth,” but the “emotional truth” — which required a lie as to chronology — expressed Hasan Minhaj’s anxiety.
Meanwhile, Minhaj was invited to the Time 100 Gala, where he said he watched former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner enter the room and sit in a seat that had been purposefully left empty for an imprisoned Saudi activist. The truth is that while he did criticize Kushner at the event for the Trump administration’s weak response to Saudi human-rights violations, there was no ceremonial seat set aside for an activist, and therefore Kushner never was told off by Minhaj for sitting in it….
There was no seat deliberately left symbolically empty for an imprisoned Saudi activist. Kushner simply sat down, and Minhaj’s supposed berating of Kushner for sitting in the seat that had been symbolically left empty never took place. Minhaj’s version of the event was a fabrication, but it conveyed an “emotional truth” about Minhaj’s concern for, and Kushner’s indifference to, that imprisoned Saudi activist.And also paints Minhaj as an intrepid soul, willing even to scold the powerful Jared Kushner.
Now we learn that “women of color” on his staff accuse Minhaj of creating a “toxic workplace environment.” So here is Hasan Minhaj, constantly prating about the terrible things that have happened to him as a “brown man,” who turns out, according to “women of color” on his staff, to have been guilty of creating an unpleasant — even “toxic” — atmosphere at work. Some women — it’s unclear if it was only those “of color” — have even hired a lawyer to sue Netflix and Minhaj’s production company. They threaten to sue — who knows if they will — for “gender discrimination, sex-based harassment, and retaliation.” If the case goes forward, if the details of the charges are made publicly available, then Hasan Minhaj is in for a world of woe. And he fully deserves it.
According to former “Patriot Act” employees, members of the research team for the show felt that Minhaj was sometimes dismissive of the fact-checking process….
If Hasan Minhaj has so little respect for the facts in his unfunny comic routine, why would he care at all about those in his employ who were doing the fact-checking? He doesn’t need the facts; he needs factoids, or even falsehoods, that will provide not the truth, but the far more important “emotional truth.”
This is Hasan Minhaj, laughing all the way to the bank, whom the public deserves to know better. He’s a misogynist, whose female staffers have complained about a “toxic work environment.” He’s a possible racist — ask the “women of color” in his employ what they think of their treatment. And, judging by what was recently revealed in The New Yorker article about him, he has been quite the mythomane, elevating “emotional truth”– which may consist of lies — above the mere “truth.” HM stands for both Hasan Minhaj, and also for what, in his essence, he has shown himself to be: Homo Mendax.