Comedian Hasan Minhaj to Congress on Guns: 'Is This What You Want Your Legacy to Be?'

Image: The 75th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony - Arrivals
Actor Hasan Minhaj attends The 75th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 20, 2016 in New York City.Mike Coppola / Getty Images

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By Traci G. Lee

In a speech at Wednesday night's Radio & Television Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington, D.C., comedian Hasan Minhaj openly criticized members of Congress for failing to act on gun control legislation in the wake of several mass shootings in U.S. history.

After joking about the possibility of Donald Trump becoming president ("Brown people, we're going to get deported. This is just my farewell tour, I'm saying goodbye to America.") and making fun of Congress' low approval rating and the state of cable news, Minhaj pivoted to the topic of Sunday's nightclub massacre in Orlando, calling it "one of the ugliest cocktails of problems that we still see here in America."

"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 said.

"If $3.7 million can buy political influence to take lives, if we raise $4 million, would you guys take that to save lives?"

The "Daily Show" satirist then called out Congress for accepting money from the NRA and from lobbyists whose influence, he said, has been largely responsible for halting action on gun control measures.

"You make almost $200,000 a year to write rules, to make our society better — not tweet, not to tell us about your ‘thoughts and prayers.' To write rules to make our society better," he said. "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."

He continued, "If $3.7 million can buy political influence to take lives, if we raise $4 million, would you guys take that to save lives?"

Minhaj concluded by challenging politicians to be more than "a 'could have done something' Congress."

"Is this what you want your legacy to be?" he asked. "I know being a member of Congress is hard — you've got to placate your base, you've got to look out for re-election, you've got to answer to lobbyists — but please persevere because our 'thoughts and prayers' are with you."

The complete dinner, which features a keynote address by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, is scheduled to air Saturday on C-SPAN.

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