No matter what the big developments of the day are, Jon Stewart was one the one person we could turn to for a brutally honest and humorous take on things. But the events in Charleston on Wednesday night rendered the comedy show host somber. In a five-minute monologue, a joke-less Jon Stewart spoke on the Charleston church shooting, and conveyed the weariness and the helpless frustration that many of us feel in the wake of yet another mindless gun massacre.
"I didn't do my job today because of what happened in South Carolina," Stewart, who will leave the show in August, told the audience. "And maybe if I wasn't nearing the end of the run or this wasn't such a common occurrence, maybe I could've pulled out of the spiral, but I didn't." He added:
I have nothing, other than just sadness, once again, that we 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 also addressed the political and media characterization of the shooting. "What blows my mind is the disparity of response," he said, "between when we think people who are foreign are going to kill us, and us killing ourselves."
Stewart said that had this been what we thought was Islamic terrorism, the country would have done all in its power to protect itself.
"Nine people shot in a church," he asked, "what about that? ... That's the part where I cannot, for the life of me, wrap my head around."
Stewart also called the shooting a "terrorist attack" — something that many media organizations were not willing to. He said:
This is a terrorist attack. This is a violent attack on the Emanuel 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.
"Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them, who wanted to start some kind of civil war," a visibly upset Stewart said.
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 is being taken away from him.
We're bringing it on ourselves. And that's the thing. Al Qaeda, all those guys, ISIS, they're not sh*t compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.
Watch the full video here: