“Right now, our country is run by a racist cheeto.”
Today, at approximately 7:04 PM, Hasan Minhaj from the Daily Show took Graham Chapel by storm as he flung satire, crass humor, and political comedy into the crowd. Although the event was held on WashU campus, there were more people from outside WashU who came to support Hasan; one girl even drove three hours just to hear him. Honestly, after listening to him today, I think I would too.
Hasan immediately captures the room’s attention even before he opens his mouth. He has a very mischievous aura about him, as if he’s a child about to break a vase and blame it on the cat. He’s tall, got a bit of scruff growing on him, and has an affable round face. His mere presence is enough to lighten up the room.
With the recent election polarizing America and further marginalizing minorities, Hasan makes clear that his one objective today was to address these issues. Speaking as one of the most celebrated Muslims in the States, he concentrates on his experience as a Muslim during 9/11 and the elections. He recounts the day after 9/11, telling us that a high school student called his house threatening to destroy it. Moments later, while Hasan and his family went back to eating dinner, they hear several windows breaking. Hasan runs outside to confront the perpetrators, but they are nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, his dad takes a broom and starts sweeping away at the broken glass. Hasan begins, “Why aren’t you mad? They just destroyed our stuff!” To his, his dad goes, “Hasan, this is the price we pay for being here.”
That really hit hard. It sucks that immigrants like Hasan’s family and my family have to “pay a price” just to live in America, a country that’s built on the backs of immigrants, a country that doesn’t even have a specific ethnicity, a country that is a hodgepodge of different ethnicities all mixed together. I never really thought about how immigrants like me are shown in such a negative connotation. In fact, it still shocks that Trump won. It’s still surprising that I know people who voted for him and continue to stand by him. That’s crazy to me. You can’t begin to say, “I’m not a racist but I voted for Trump,” because that’s not how it works.
As I keep thinking about politics and Trump and Trump supporters and how crazy America is now, Hasan interrupts my thoughts. He said that there are people who have it worse than others, like black people who are inherently American and have been living in America longer than most immigrants but are treated worse because of their skin pigmentation. One of my favorite things Hasan said was how he walks by the Fox News Studio during lunch and he’ll see all the reporters and commentators who just moments ago would criticize Muslims and rage about ISIS only to stand in line for Halal Chicken and Rice.
It makes me question why people are this way. Granting people freedom and the ability to live without any cultural burden should not be a privilege but a right. It’s upsetting to think about.
Towards the end of his talk, Hasan says, and I quote, “I know this is hard to do, especially now, but always come from a place of empathy.” He’s right. During a time where people are prone to violence and are quick to judge, I think empathy is the only thing I can hope to carry with me.