The Daily Show host and comedian Jon Stewart has used his platform to deliver an impassioned speech discussing the massacre of nine people at the Charleston Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church.
The shooting has been described as a racist hate crime. The alleged killer, Dylann Roof, 21, has been apprehended. Seconds before the attack, authorities said Roof stood up and announced he was there to "shoot black people."
Stewart dropped his usual jocular approach to deliver an emotional talk on a "racist culture" that bred Dylann Roof to kill nine people. The full transcript is below:
"I have one job and it's a pretty simple job. I come in in the morning, and we look at the news and I write jokes about it.
I didn't do my job today. I've got nothing for you in terms of jokes and sounds, because of what happened in South Carolina.
I honestly have nothing other than 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 yet we pretend doesn't exist. I'm confident though that by acknowledging it—by staring into it—we still won't do jack shit.
That's us. And that's the part that blows my mind...What blows my mind is the disparity of response. 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. And you know it's going to go down the same path: this is a terrible tragedy. They are already using the nuanced language of lack of effort. This is a terrorist attack, this is a violent attack on the Emanuel church of 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 viciously many times as many black churches have.
I've heard some on the news say 'Tragedy has visited this church' - this wasn't a tornado, this was a racist, a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater. This one is black and white, there's no nuance here. We keep pretending: 'I don't get it, what happened, there's one guy who lost his mind'.
We are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognise it and I cannot believe how hard people are working to discount it. In South Carolina the roads that black people drive on are named for confederate generals who fought to keep black people from being able to drive freely on that road.
That's insanity. That's racial wallpaper. You can't allow that.
Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them who wanted to start some sort of civil war.
The confederate flag flies over South Carolina. And the roads are named for confederate generals.
And the white guy is 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, ISIS, they're not shit compared to the damage we can do to ourselves on a regular basis."