Friday, June 19, 2015

transcript of Jon Stewart's remarks on Charleston

I have one job, and it’s a pretty simple job. I come in in the morning and we look at the news and I write jokes about it. And then I make a couple faces and a noise, and then it’s just cha-ching and I’m out the door. But I didn’t do my job today. So I apologize. I got nothing for you in terms of, like, 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. And so, I honestly have nothing other than 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 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 and blah – 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 – 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 gotta 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? ‘Eyy, what’re you gonna 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 – you know that it’s gonna go down the same path – ‘this is a terrible tragedy’ – they’re already using the nuanced language of lack of effort for this. This is a terrorist attack. This is a violent attack on the Emmanuel Church in South Carolina which is a symbol for the black community. It has stood in that part of Charleston for 100-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, ‘well, 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. You know, so the idea that – you know, 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 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 – 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 a Civil War. 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.

We’re bringing it on ourselves. And that’s the thing – Al-Quaeda, ISIS – they’re not shit compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.

Our guest tonight is an incredible person who suffered unspeakable violence by extremists, and her perseverance and determination through that to continue on is an incredible inspiration. And to be quite honest with you, I don’t think there’s anyone in the world I’d rather talk to tonight than Malala [Yousafzai], so that’s what we’re gonna do. And sorry about about no jokes.

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