Comedian and “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” correspondent Hasan Minhaj concluded his speech at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner with passionate criticism of Congress’ inaction on gun control, the gun lobby and structural discrimination.
“I don’t know even know how to pivot here, to be honest with you guys,” Minhaj said after nearly 18 minutes of jokes about the presidential race, Congress’ poor approval rating and political media.
Minhaj then launched into his critique, describing his and other satirists’ complicity in not speaking up against hate that, at its most extreme, manifests in tragedies like the Pulse massacre:
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.
He referenced Freddie Gray’s death after being in the custody of Baltimore police officers when discussing what more he and others in the audience should do fight oppression:
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.
Minhaj then lambasted the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the lawmakers who accept gun lobby money:
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.
Watch Minhaj’s full speech above. C-SPAN will air the full Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner tomorrow (June 18) at 8 p.m. ET.