Jon Stewart last night made an emotional speech about racism and gun crime during The Daily Show, which is sure to be controversial. Staring at the camera with a solemn face, Stewart began by apologizing to the audience:
“I have one job, and it’s a pretty easy job,” he said, explaining that all he has to do is come in, write some jokes based on the news, and get paid a lot of money for it. “I didn’t do my job today,” Stewart admitted. “I got nothing for you because of what happened in South Carolina.”
The Charlestown church shooting is just the latest in a long line of horrific attacks by lone gunmen in the United States. And while the likes of Alex Jones, the NRA, and even left-wing defenders of the constitution will argue that guns are a right for all free citizens, the rest of the world looks on in horror at American society: in Switzerland, everyone has a gun, and this doesn’t happen there. Clearly, something isn’t right across the pond. Stewart knows this, and his frustration is clear.
“I honestly have nothing other than just sadness that we that we have to peer into the abyss of the deprived violence that we do to each other, and the nexus of a racial wound that will not heal,” he went on. Then comes the only thing close to a joke in this particular segment: “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.” The audience laughed nervously. “Yeah! That’s us!” Stewart responded.
But he didn’t want to talk about gun control. What’s the point? Even Vince Vaughn believes in the right of all Americans to bear arms. It’s a topic that is complicated and controversial, and Stewart doesn’t talk about that here- what’s the point?
The debate that he wants to have is tied up in the United States’s history, present, and future. It’s about the “death machines flying over five or six different countries to ‘keep Americans safe,” in Stewart‘s words. “That’s the part I cant wrap my head around,” he said, his anger showing now. Referencing our collective paranoia and violent reactions to ISIS and Al Quaeda, our drone wars in far-flung countries that most people couldn’t even find on a map, and the deep-rooted racism in American society, Stewart notes: “It’s the disparity of response between when we think foreign people are going to kill us, and when we kill ourselves.”
It was a passionate and angry few minutes, but do you agree with Stewart? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
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