The White House Correspondents Association has announced a comedian for its annual dinner on April 29: Hasan Minhaj of The Daily Show, whose main claim to fame is a flame-throwing leftist routine last June at the Radio Television Correspondents Association Dinner. It made our list of the most notable left-wing media quotes of 2016:
“What we saw in Orlando was one of the ugliest cocktails of the 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....Is this what you [Congress] want your legacy to be?...That you were complicit in the deaths of thousands of Americans?” — Comedy Central Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj, regretting lack of more gun control, addressing the June 15 Radio Television Correspondents’ Association dinner aired by C-SPAN on June 18.
So much for the bland idea that the WHCA dinner was going to “back to its roots” and talk about journalism and scholarships. The WHCA is clearly intimidated by the idea that Samantha Bee is going to throw an “alternative” dinner that will be fiercer, so they went out and booked a different leftist Daily Show veteran. An Indian-American Muslim, a comedian “of color.” They’re underlining that they wanted someone who would mock that “racist Cheeto” Donald Trump (that’s Minhaj, again, at last year’s RTCA dinner).
WHCA president Jeff Mason offered the usual unconvincing denial, that this would not be bashing Trump in absentia, it was just a demonstration of "robust and independent" (ahem) liberal media: “Hasan’s smarts, big heart and passion for press freedom make him the perfect fit for our event, which will be focused on the First Amendment and the importance of a robust and independent media.”
(Was it "robust and independent" to have Larry Wilmore of Comedy Central last year to gush to Obama: "So, Mr. President, if I’m going to keep it 100 [percent honest]: Yo, Barry, you did it, my nigga.” Puh-leeze.)
Minhaj is very proud of his secular sermon. The video of the RTCA dinner is his Pinned Tweet:
First there’s the America's-phobia part:
Every day, in our workplaces, in our homes, in our religious institutions, there is covert or overt discrimination or phobia towards people of different religious, racial, or sexual walks of life. We just sit there and we let it happen because it doesn't affect our bottom line. "I didn't say it, Hasan. I don't think it's that way. They said it, okay? It's not that simple, Hasan," and we just go on with our lives because it didn't affect our status quo.
The sad reality is stuff like this is going to continue to happen unless we recognize that civil liberties are an all-or-nothing game. A rising tide lifts all boats. It's not pick or choose. Whether you like it or not, we all have to step up and fight for each other. Otherwise the whole thing is a sham. 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 paddy wagons until we stand up and say something.
Then there’s the NRA-bought-Congress complaint:
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. Before I get up here in my liberal bubble and I ask for gun control and universal background checks and banning assault rifles, we've got to be able to have the conversation. Right now, specifically, 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. 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?
Here’s how he described his feelings when it was over to People magazine:
“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,” Minhaj tells PEOPLE. “Then there was a group of people that were like, ‘Hey, thank you for saying that."
“I just wanted to keep it intellectually honest and I wanted to keep all my jokes just about policy,” he says, adding that he had no regrets about his decision. “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.’ ”
Remembering when he first joined The Daily Show, Minhaj tells PEOPLE that he tries to live by advice from Jon Stewart to “move towards his discomfort.” His biggest hope for his latest performance is that it starts a conversation.
“We don’t need thoughts and prayers, we need preventive legislation,” he adds. “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.”
It’s always interesting when a liberal says they want a “dialogue” on their issue. What they really want is a win. The Daily Show doesn’t do “dialogue.” They do satire and harangues. When the media constantly honor these kinds of comedians, they’re saying this is what our political discourse needs: more leftist outrage, more “courage.”