TORONTO — Jon Stewart wasn’t in the mood to crack wise Thursday night on The Daily Show — but he shared wise words with viewers still digesting the horror of a mass murder at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them, who wanted to start some kind of civil war,” Stewart said, describing the shooting as a terrorist attack.
“This one is black and white. There’s no nuance here.”
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The host chose not to open the show with his usual satirical look at current affairs but instead skewered a society that breeds the kind of hatred the 21-year-old gunman evidently has for his fellow citizens due to the colour of their skin.
“We are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize it and I can’t believe how hard people are working to discount it,” Stewart opined.
“In South Carolina the roads that black 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.”
Stewart added: “The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina and the roads are named for Confederate generals. And the white guy’s the one who feels like his country’s being taken away from him?”
The comedian said he couldn’t tell jokes Thursday because he feels only “sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other in the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal yet we pretend doesn’t exist.”
Stewart added: “I’m confident that by acknowledging it, by staring into that, and seeing it for what it is, we still won’t do jack s***. That’s the part that blows my mind.”
The Daily Show host also took aim at American culture and foreign policy.
“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,” he said.
“We 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? ‘Hey, what’re you going to do? Crazy is as crazy is, right?’
“That’s the part that I cannot, for the life of me, wrap my head around.”
Stewart concluded his five-minute commentary with a reference to the terrorists Americans have been conditioned to fear.
“Al Qaeda, all those guys, ISIS, they’re not s*** compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.”