Last night, the day after a racially motivated massacre left nine dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Jon Stewart took to his anchor desk on The Daily Show and admitted he had no jokes to tell. The comedian explained he hadn’t done his job that day because he couldn’t “pull out of the spiral” of despair, as he put it.
His intense, heartfelt opening monologue is making the rounds on social media this morning. I’ve included the video below. In it, he makes the case in no uncertain terms that what happened in Charleston is terrorism, and he lambasted those who are quick to take the usual defeatist attitude that tempers the national reaction so that ultimately no action is taken.
“By acknowledging it, by staring into that and seeing it for what it is, we still won’t do jackshit,” he said. “Yeah, that’s us. And that’s the part that blows my mind.”
Stewart’s point is simple: despite repeated acts of unspeakable violence, we do nothing. We’re quick to take up arms and bring the fury of the entire nation down on foreign threats, but to those who would inflict harm here at home, we’re hesitant to even start the conversation of how they should be handled.
“What blows my mind is the disparity of response,” Stewart said. “When we think people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves…We invade two countries and spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands of American lives and now fly unmanned death machines over like five or six different counties, all to keep Americans safe.
“We’ve got to do whatever we can—we’ll torture people. We’ve got to do whatever we can to keep Americans safe. But nine people shot in a church— ‘Hey, what are you going go to do? Crazy is as crazy is, right?’ That’s the part that, for the life of me, I can’t wrap my head around.”
I imagine Stewart is not alone in his frustration. But is he right? Was this terrorism? The better question is… what do we do about it?