A Solemn, Angry Jon Stewart Addresses The Charleston Attack

Photo: Martin Crook/Comedy Central.
It’s been a horrific, upsetting, and tragically, all too common week in America. On Wednesday night Dylann Storm Roof, a white gunman, killed nine people in a historic, predominantly black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The racially motivated terrorist attack has left the nation in a state of anger and sadness, and during Thursday night’s episode of The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart perfectly articulated the words many of us have struggled to find.

Stewart apologized to his studio audience and the viewers at home for having “no jokes” for Thursday night’s broadcast, then gave a rousing, urgent monologue about the Charleston attack. (No apologies necessary, Jon, this is exactly what we needed. Sometimes a passionate plea and call for justice, not laughter, is the best medicine.)

A visibly shaken-up Stewart said he was distraught to have to “peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other and the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet we pretend doesn’t exist.”

Stewart didn’t mince his words on Thursday night. He refused to call the events in Charleston a “tragedy,” rather, “this is a terrorist attack.” The host said that there is no questioning “why” this attack took place; the answer is already glaringly in front of us. “This one is black and white. There’s no nuance here,” Stewart said.

Although, it wasn’t just Stewart’s hauntingly accurate observation that America is a country “steeped in that culture” of racism, or that in a place like South Carolina, where the Confederate flag still waves, “the white guy is the one who feels like his country’s being taken from him.” It was his heartbroken knowledge that “we still won’t do jack shit” to remedy the problem, “you know it’s going to go down the same path,” he said.

Stewart has been at this job a long time, and he knows how this story plays out. We’ll go to war, time and time again, to keep Americans safe when it comes to foreign threats, but we’ll sweep “the damage we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis” under the rug. Stewart knows how this story is written, but he’s still doing everything he can to change the dialogue within.

Watch Jon Stewart’s response to the Charleston attack below:

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