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Comments: Week of May 15, 2017


1. Jada Yuan’s cover story on Aziz Ansari (“Aziz Ansari Is From a Red State, Too,” May 1–14) left many readers impressed with the comedian’s dogged work ethic: “Aziz Ansari doesn’t do things by half,” wrote Sarah at Lainey Gossip. Commenter BigGuy wrote, “Not many people intensively study the language of the country they will be visiting beforehand. Aziz does that over and over.” Others were taken with the fact that Ansari was able to achieve success on his terms, without having to resort to playing Indian stock characters. “What was cool to me about Aziz when he started out was that he never felt the burden to address his otherness,” tweeted @fauxbeatpoet. “He was just him.” Commenter MyLifeInPlastic added, “Most importantly, his stories and characters are authentic — they don’t rely on tired stereotypes.” Many, though, were just excited by the return of Master of None — or particularly despondent that a third season might not be in the works. As commenter lintroller wrote, “Nooooo on the possibility of season 3 not happening! Or at least taking a long time. Sigh.”


2. The last issue included a 31-page compendium of the “extremely reactionary, burn-it-down-radical, newfangled far right” (“Beyond Alt: The New Reactionary Counterculture,” May 1–14). Many readers were impressed with how the feature connected the dots of this sprawling multiverse. The Hill’s Will Sommer tweeted, “@nymag’s package on the alt-right is a great, ambitious attempt to grasp the movement.” Unsurprisingly, many of the characters featured in the guide were less than enthused with it, including Alex Jones protégé Paul Joseph Watson, who tweeted, “I’ve communicated with a tiny fraction of these people and only even heard of about half of them, but I’m in a giant conspiracy with them … At least they admit we’re the new counter-culture though.” Vice co-founder turned racial provocateur Gavin McInnes deemed it “the usual meandering mess you get when the left tries to wrap their head around the new right.” And Pizzagate conspiracist Mike Cernovich added, “A snarky and dishonest look at this powerful movement … We are on to the ‘then you win’ phase.” Meanwhile, many on the left were incensed that the story compared the passions driving their agenda to those of the new far right. JGH commented, “Yeah, giving people universal health care and a living wage is totally the same as building a border wall, ending net neutrality and banning immigrants based on religion.” Bhaskar Sunkara, the founder of Jacobin and vice-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, responded to the alt-left’s inclusion, writing, “In a time of rising authoritarianism, it’s understandable that New York Magazine contributors would be wary of certain forms of anti-Establishment populism. But their reminder in the last issue that a dangerous ‘alt-left’ is alive and well is misguided. Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, all cited as examples of this force, are figures with a real popular base campaigning around a social-democratic program in favor of basic worker protections, a social safety net, and more popular engagement in the decisions that affect ordinary people’s lives. That’s not extreme politics, it isn’t demagogic politics, it’s the politics that can win over tens of millions of people who feel like politics hasn’t been working for them and might otherwise be won over to the populist right. People are angry. I’m glad the Left is speaking to that anger, but I refuse to believe that makes us equivalent to those who would use that anger to stoke racism and xenophobia. The ‘alt-left,’ as defined by New York Magazine, looks increasingly like modernity’s only hope.”

3. The excavation of the radical right featured Andrew Sullivan’s essay on the intellectual roots of reactionism (“Reactionaries Must Be Taken Seriously,” May 1–14). Business Insider’s Brett LoGiurato wrote, “This is the best thing Andrew Sullivan has written in years.” And the Los Angeles Times’ Matt Pearce highlighted how the essay was “an argument that the new right is here to stay and is a force to be reckoned with, not ignored.” Others dug into the precursors of this movement. Commenter Bigmouth wrote, “Today’s right-wing reactionaries weren’t just revolted by left-wing academia. They learned and internalized its lessons through and through … The tools of the left have been thoroughly co-opted by the right.” And commenter cyberrr96 had this suggestion: “Here’s a better name for them: Anarchists. The kind of people who’d rather watch the world burn than change. They are not capable of compromise, so liberals shouldn’t even try.”


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