Jon Stewart couldn’t make any jokes in his opening monologue for last night’s show, and who can blame him–
I am heart-sick and stunned that nine innocent people could be gunned down, at a Bible study in a church, by someone who sat there for an hour and still couldn’t hear and see the humanity of those around him. Stewart confesses a similar incomprehension, except on a broad scale. His monologue may be a little unfocused– he seems to be talking about domestic terrorism, our gun culture, racism, and racist violence, all simultaneously. I forgive him, even though these issues are not all exactly the same, because they do powerfully overlap, and who can think with one hundred percent clarity after an atrocity like this? But I think his central question comes through loud and clear– what is wrong with our culture when we spend billions of dollars and thousands of lives defending against foreign terrorism, and then (effectively) shrug our shoulders at horrors like Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook and now Charleston? What is wrong with our culture when deadly weapons are allowed to fall into the hands of haters and lunatics? And why, why, why is it so hard for us as a culture to face up to this void in our soul and do something about it? Stewart doesn’t really have an answer, and neither do I, but it’s way past time for us to figure this out.
Stewart redeems the show from utter despair by then pivoting to an interview with Malala Yousafzai. He himself expresses his own relief at being able to talk to this young woman on this particular day. I am a fan of this brave youngster. She is only some months older than my own daughter, so it’s easy to see my bright child in this bright child. But this young woman has faced much the same sort of hateful violence as the Emanuel AME attack and, amazingly, is still working for the education of girls and young women. Watch the whole interview, and maybe, like me, you’ll remember that there is still hope in the world.
PS– upon reflection two days later, it’s probably me who is experiencing the greatest confusion– now that I’ve watched the segment a couple of times, it’s clear Stewart is focused on this crime as racially motivated terrorism. It’s my brain that cross-connected to the other issues– but, as I said, these all overlap in our culture, so I am fairly unrepentant. I just wanted to get clear on who it was who was confused. C’est moi, clearly.