Daily Show satire news correspondent Hasan Minhaj got real and gave it to the media, Congress and the NRA on Wednesday night at the 2016 Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner. The RTCA is an organization of broadcast journalists who report on the U.S. Congress, and its annual dinner like the higher-profile “nerd prom” (a.k.a. White house Correspondents’ Association Dinner), is probably better known than any of the group’s awards or other activities.
Minhaj followed in the footsteps of some of the event’s previous guest entertainers, including Stephen Colbert and Aasif Mandvi, by bringing the jokes plus a dose of reality. He started out by drawing similarities between himself and keynote speaker Ohio governor/former presidential contender John Kasich — including how “people can’t pronounce our names.”
Minhaj’s full speech is less than 23 minutes long, and the complete video of it is embedded at the bottom of this post, after a roundup of some of his comments. At one point, he starts talking about Sunday’s horrific Orlando massacre and attacks members of Congress for their inaction, meaningless tweets, and for accepting millions of dollars from the NRA. Here are some excerpts from this hard-hitting part of his speech (emphasis mine), followed by a brief video clip:
What we saw in Orlando was one of the ugliest cocktails of problems that we still see here in America, a cocktail of homophobia, xenophobia, lack of access to mental healthcare and sheer lack of political will. All of us satirists, we’ve all been yelling out, crying out, for change. But the sad reality is that we are all complicit in what happened. Every day in our workplaces, in our homes, in our workplaces, in our religious institutions, there is covert or overt discrimination toward people of different religious, racial or sexual walks of life. And we just sit there and we let it happen, because it doesn’t affect our bottom line.
…Stuff like this is going to continue to happen until we realize that civil liberties are an all or nothing game. A rising tide lifts all boats. It’s not pick or choose. So, whether you like it or not we all have to step up and fight for each other, otherwise the whole thing is a sham. And until we do that, hijabis are going to get harassed in the streets, members from the trans community are going to be demonized for using the bathroom, and my brothers and sisters in the African American community, their spines are going to continue to get shattered in the back of paddywagons, until we stand up and say something. And the thing that hurts me the most is, I wish I would have done more.
To my brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community and every marginalized community, I’m sorry I didn’t do more, and the same goes for Congress. We look to you guys as our leaders. You make almost $200,000 a year to write rules, to make our society better, not tweet to tell us about your ‘thoughts and prayers,’ to write rules to make our society better. And ultimately it comes down to money and influence. And right now since 1998, the NRA has given $3.7 million to Congress. There are 294 sitting members of Congress that have accepted contributions from the NRA, and that doesn’t even include the millions of dollars from outside lobbying.
…Congress has blocked legislation for the CDC to study gun-related violence. We can’t even talk about the issue with real statistics and facts. So I don’t know if this is like a Kickstarter thing? But if $3.7 million can buy political influence to take lives, if we raise $4 million, would you guys take that to save lives?
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) June 16, 2016
The quotes below are a sample from the somewhat lighter side of Minhaj’s speech. For the full comments and his entire speech, watch the complete video of his RTCA appearance online. It’s embedded at the end of the post.
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