Jon Stewart stepped away from his comic persona Thursday night to address the tragic mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
A somber-looking Stewart started the Daily Show with an apology to his viewers. “I didn’t do my job today, so I apologize. I have nothing for you in terms of jokes and sounds, because of what happened in South Carolina.”
No matter how many times we have to “peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other at the nexus of a gaping racial wound, that will not heal, yet we pretend does not exist,” Stewart said America’s response to the horrific Charleston shooting is predictable: “We still won’t do jack shit.”
“What blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think that people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves,” Stewart said. “If this had been what we thought was Islamic terrorism, it would fit into—we’ve invaded two countries and spent trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives and now fly unmanned death machines over like five or six different countries all to keep Americans safe. We’ve got to do whatever we can to keep Americans safe. Nine people shot in a church, what about that?”
“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.”
Finally Stewart addressed the realities of life in South Carolina:
“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. We’re bringing it on ourselves. And that’s the thing. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, they’re not [expletive] compared to the damage that we can do to ourselves on a regular basis.”
Stewart’s guest Thursday night was education rights activist and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who is also the victim of gun violence at the hands of extremists.