The Daily Show host Jon Stewart has slammed America’s response to the mass shooting in a South Carolina church, predicting that nothing would be done in the wake of a “terrorist attack” that left nine people dead.
In a sombre opening to a show he promised would contain no jokes, Stewart said some people were already working hard to discount the idea that racism was the motive behind the massacre.
Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, is currently in custody in Charleston.
Prior to introducing his guest – Nobel peace prize-winner Malala Yousafzai – Stewart told viewers: “I have nothing other than just sadness that once again we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other, and the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal but we pretend doesn’t exist.
“I’m confident, though, that by acknowledging it, by staring into that and seeing it for what it is, we still won’t do jackshit.
“Yeah. That’s us.”
The reluctance to label domestic shootings of this kind as terrorism, he went on, led to what he called a “disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves”.
“If this had been what we thought was Islamic terrorism … we invaded two countries and spent trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives, and now fly unmanned death machines over, like, five or six different countries …
“Nine people. Shot in a church. What about that? Eh. What are you gonna do? Crazy is as crazy is, right?”
The media response had been too slow to acknowledge the culture that made such violence possible, Stewart said: “I heard someone on the news say, a tragedy has visited this church. This wasn’t a tornado. This was racist. This was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater … This one is black and white. There’s no nuance here.
“And we’re going to keep pretending: I don’t get it, what happened, there’s one guy lost his mind. We are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize it, and I cannot believe how hard people are working to discount it.”
Stewart pointed to what he called the “racial wallpaper” of South Carolina, where a confederate flag continues to be flown within the grounds of the capitol building: “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’s being taken away from him.”