Similar to his opening monologues after 9/11, the 2011 Tuscon shooting, and the murder of Eric Garner, Jon Stewart opened last night’s episode of The Daily Show (whose guest, fittingly, was human rights activist and shooting survivor Malala Yousafzai) with none of his regular jokes and instead opted for solemnity and exasperation at the massacre of nine civilians in Charleston on Wednesday.
In stark contrast from many of his peers in television media, Stewart opted for directness in his criticism of the action and how it has been covered:
“You know it – you know – that it’s going to go down the same path. 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 a hundred-and-some years, and has been attacked 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 racist. This was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater,”
Stewart’s remarks also addressed the disparity of reactions between when people of color or foreign nationals commit violence and when white people commit it. He also addressed the ubiquity of Confederate cultural symbols in South Carolina:
“The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina. And the roads are named for Confederate generals…and the white guy feels like his country is being taken away from him,”
Click above to see the video, and click here to see the Washington Post’s transcript of Stewart’s statements.