Jon Stewart sets jokes aside in heart-wrenching monologue on Charleston massacre

Jon Stewart

Earlier this week, 21 year old and apparent white-supremacist Dylan Roof opened fire inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, near the heart of Charleston, South Carolina’s tourist district, in the country’s most recent occurrence of deadly hate crime. He killed nine people.

Roof was arrested Thursday morning about 245 miles away in Shelby, North Carolina.

In the hours after the gruesome event – one which paints yet another disgusting yet devastatingly accurate and violent depiction of the nation’s still-prevalent racial divide – people across the country have mourned, reflected and outraged at not only the act (or those like it) itself, but at the choice of many to still pretend that the issue of violent racism does not exist.

None, in my opinion, did it so eloquently and even emotionally than Jon Stewart, headliner (and soon to be retiree) of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show:

I didn’t do my job today. I’ve got nothing for you in terms of jokes and sounds because of what happened in South Carolina. And maybe if I wasn’t nearing the end of the run or this wasn’t such a common occurrence, maybe I could have pulled out of the spiral. But I didn’t.

I honestly have nothing other than just sadness once again that 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 yet 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 shit. Yeah, that’s us. And that’s the part that blows my mind.

I don’t want to get into the political argument of guns and things. What blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves…

If this had been what we thought was Islamic terrorism, it would fit into our [narrative]. We invaded two countries and spent trillions of dollars and [lost] thousands of American lives and now fly unmanned death machines over like five or six different counties, all to keep Americans safe. We’ve got to do whatever we can – we’ll torture people. We’ve got to do whatever we can to keep Americans safe. But nine people shot in a church, what about that? “Hey, what are you going go to do? Crazy is as crazy is, right?”

That’s the part that I cannot, for the life of me, wrap my head around. And you know it’s gonna go down the same path. “This is a terrible tragedy.” They are already using the nuanced language of lack of effort for this.

This is a terrorist attack. This is a violent attack on the Emanuel Church in South Carolina which is a symbol for the black community. It has stood in that part of Charleston for a hundred and some years and has been attacked viciously many times – as many black churches have. And to pretend that – I heard someone on the news say – “tragedy has visited this church”. This wasn’t a tornado. This was a racist. This was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater. So the idea that – I hate to even use this pun – but this one is black and white. There’s no nuance here. And we’re gonna keep pretending like, “I don’t get it, what happened. This one guy lost his mind.”

But we are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize it. And I cannot believe how hard people are working to discount it. In South Carolina, the roads that people drive on are named for Confederate generals who fought to keep black people from being able to drive freely on that road. That’s insanity. That’s racial wallpaper. You can’t allow that.

Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them – who wanted to start some kind of civil war. The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina and the roads are named for Confederate generals. And the white guy is the one who feels his country’s being taken away from him. We’re bringing it on ourselves.

And that’s the thing – Al Qaeda, all those guys, ISIS – they’re not shit compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.

Transcript property of Comedy Central.