Jon Stewart showed a rare side on Thursday’s The Daily Show and stepped away from his usual comedic persona. He stated that he was in no mood for jokes following the tragic massacre of nine people at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“I have one job, and it’s a pretty simple job,” Stewart said. “I come in, in the morning, and we look at the news, and I write jokes about it… But I didn’t do my job today, so I apologize. I got nothing for you, in terms of jokes and sounds, because of what happened in South Carolina.”
Instead of his usually humorous monologue, a somber-looking Stewart opted to use the time to address the political and news media’s response to the mass shooting, stating that some people were already working hard to discount the idea that racism was the motive behind the terrorist attack.
Prior to the introduction of his guest – Nobel peace prize-winner Malala Yousafzai – Stewart told viewers, “I have nothing other than just sadness that once again we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other, and the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal but we pretend doesn’t exist.”
“I’m confident, though, that by acknowledging it, by staring into that and seeing it for what it is, we still won’t do jack s***. Yeah. That’s us. And that’s the part that blows my mind.”
The reluctance to label domestic shootings of this kind as terrorism is what he said has led to a “disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves.”
He went on, “If this had been what we thought was Islamic terrorism, it would fit into our — we invaded two countries and spent trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives and now fly unmanned death machines over five or six different countries, all to keep Americans safe. We got to do whatever we can. We’ll torture people. We gotta do whatever we can to keep Americans safe. Nine people. Shot in a church. What about that? Eh. What are you gonna do? Crazy is as crazy is, right?”
“I heard someone on the news say, ‘Tragedy has visited this church.’ This wasn’t a tornado. This was racist. This was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater. You know. So the idea -I hate to even use this pun, but this one is black and white. There is no nuance here.
“And we’re going to keep pretending, like, ‘I don’t get it, this one guy lost his mind.’ But we are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize it. I cannot believe how hard people are working to discount it.”
Subsequently, Stewart addressed the blatant racial realities of life in South Carolina and the “racial wallpaper” that exists.
“Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them, who wanted to start some sort of civil war. The confederate flag flies over South Carolina and the roads are named after confederate generals. And the white guy is the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him.”
Watch Stewart’s stirring opening monologue below.
[Image via The Daily Show]