Kareem Abdul Jabbar spoke at the DNC last night, primarily to introduce the story of army Captain Humayun Khan, who was one of 14 Muslim-Americans who have died in combat since 9/11. Khan's father later spoke movingly of his son's sacrifice and his devotion to American ideals.
Abdul Jabbar opened, however, with a scathing jab at Donald Trump, which you can see in the video below:
As an advocacy teacher, I feel the need to analyze the joke for effectiveness (yes, I realize that is like dissecting a frog, which is why I saved my comments until after the video).
First, it is obvious that the joke was a big hit with the people in the room, who erupted in laughter and applause. Like most good jokes, it took a beat before the audience realized what Abdul Jabbar was implying. Then, the shared "aha" moment made it all the more enjoyable.
The joke also worked because it was delivered in a deadpan by a much admired figure. A snarkier or more confrontational tone might have caused it to fall flat, even in a room full of Trump detractors. For maximum impact, it had to be delivered with a slight tone of regret, rather than outright accusation.
But how did it play at home? Did Clinton supporters have the same reaction when watching on television? Were independents or undecided voters at all swayed? Did Republicans see any humor in it, or did they react only with outrage?
My sense is that the joke was extremely effective in further "defining" Trump in a negative light. Given that defining your opponent is often the key to a successful campaign -- a tactic taken to new heights, or lows, by Trump himself -- I think that the video worked very well.
Still, I am not an objective observer. What do others think?