I apologize in advance for my following comment because it is always easier to be a critique than…
Mateo Acebedo

Mateo, since you approached this critique from a some what ‘academic’ angle, here’s my response:

“in no position do you ever acknowledge that anything you are doing is what’s causing today’s political phenomena.”

→ Maybe you didn’t meant to do so, but this comes off as accusatory. As if Anand did something to cause this political phenomena of anger? It seems as if you’re trying to say ask, “do you ever acknowledge that you’re not of Western European descent” — “… that you have a perspective” — “…that you are not apologizing for your heritage”?

→ Either way, I’m pretty sure the whole purpose of Anand featuring James’ response is to acknowledge that he, and others that James deem ‘unAmerican,’ ARE very much the source of the political phenomena.

“Instead, you have engaged in a pissing contest where you find yourself more worthy of an opinion because you are born in Cleveland and your opponent was born in Japan.”

→ It’s ironic that you use the word ‘worthy,’ because it’s this concept that Anand is trying to dispel when defining an American. To James, an American is not someone who was born and lives in the U.S., it’s someone who James thinks is based on his personal standards. James goes on to refer to worth as defined by adhering to sexual normative roles (“effeminate, domesticated male”), the English language, and hair (apparently his biggest concern?).

To James, not only is Anand not worthy of being American, he’s not of functioning cognitive or emotional capactities (you will never comprehend this rage. You are literally incapable of viscerally understanding. The rage will continue. What are we upset about? We are upset that a guy like you has a voice in the public square”).

→ It’s interesting how you see this is a competition between who is more American than the other. I see this as gift from the literary universe and used as an effective point as to why this political phenomena is founded on xenophobia. It’s frankly the icing on the cake of what was a series of James’ illogical, contradictory, and self-righteous arguments (and personal attacks). I also don’t see why Anand highlighting (and unfortunately having to defend) the fact that he is a Cleveland-born American is somehow instigating what you later say contributes to “bipartisanship” and “polarization.”

As a white, upper-middle class person with a ‘straight’ sexual orientation AKA subscribing to James’ definition of an ‘American,’ there is no genetically-acceptable dna strand of me that feels like this piece contributes to ~polarization~. In fact, I do not feel that Anand should write something more ‘productive’ or empathetic to poor James, because it would only accept that white nationalism as the rule for American society…Doing so would be the most polarizing, unAmerican thing Anand could do.

Apologies if this came off as an attack. I’m more concerned your critique sees this pieces as an us vs. them and how you undermine the danger to what James said, and who he represents. Like those who think that #BlackLivesMatter are trouble makers, not empowered people mobilizing for equal human rights.

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