On Wednesday, June 14, comedian Hasan Minhaj blasted Congress for failing to act on gun control, following the Orlando massacre, which took the lives of 49 people and injured 53 more, just days prior.
After delivering the usual jokes about politicians like John Kasich and Hillary Clinton at the Radio and Television Correspondents Associate Dinner, Minhaj acknowledged that the country is divided on gun control, but that everyone is being “complicit” about the issue. “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 health care and sheer lack of political will,” said Minhaj.
“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,” he continued. “Every day in our workplaces, in our homes, in our religious institutions, there is cover or overt discrimination or phobia towards 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.”
According to Minhaj, it all boils down to “money and influence.” “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. 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?” he said.
“We don’t need thoughts and prayers, we need preventive legislation,” he continued. “I hope that this starts a dialogue … I hope that Congress will lift that ban and allow the CDC to cover gun violence and gun deaths because we can’t even have a real discussion with the other side of the argument.
“I just wanted to keep it intellectually honest and I wanted to keep all my jokes just about policy. That’s what we’ve learned at the ‘Daily Show’ is to write to our highest level of intellect. I’m not going to go after people’s families or their personal lives. I’m going after ‘Hey, this is what we have paid you to do as our representatives.’ ”
Meanwhile, the “Daily Show” correspondent admitted you could cut the tension with a knife after his remarks, but that not all were opposed to his call to action. “It was a little cold in the room. The people that didn’t like it filed right out and some people kind of felt like, ‘OK, he was supposed to do comedy and he didn’t quite do all that. Then there was a group of people that were like, ‘Hey, thank you for saying that.’ John Kasich came up and we talked for a little bit.”
The conversation just so happened to fall at the same time Democrats were arguing about the need for new gun control measures. After nearly 15 hours on the Senate floor, Republican Party leaders reportedly agreed to allow a vote on two new measures, which is exactly what Minhaj was fighting for.
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