Jon Stewart peers into the abyss

June 20, 2015 at 2:48 pm (Anti-Racism, crime, good people, Jim D, television, United States)

The usually witty host of the US Daily Show, Jon Stewart says “no jokes” in the aftermath of the Charleston killings:

“I 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 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 jack shit.”

A powerful and moving statement, well worth watching:

H/t: Jon-Erik Kellso


  1. caseypurvis said,


    • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

      I am not aware of blacks going into churches and gunning the white folks down in racist attacks. Of course people of all colours in the US commit crime.

      • caseypurvis said,

        ANOTHER 80 IQ

  2. SteveH said,

    It is funny how when white American boys are killing Muslims you wear a cheer-leading costume and tell us all how wonderful it is but now you are all mournful.

    An interesting contrast.

    • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

      SteveH. Who are you responding to!

  3. Political tourist said,

    White southern rascist, the apartheid regime in South Africa, Rhodesia, that mass murderer in Norway, Johnny Adair and the Norn Iron misfits, the KKK, Orange Order, BNP, English Defence League, Mosley.
    Anybody seeing a pattern here.

    • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

      You forgot to mention Sinn Fein IRA and the genocide against protestants.

  4. Paul Canning said,

    @SteveH – It is also ‘funny’ when the UK commentariat go apes**t when 3 Muslims are shot in Chapel Hill over a parking dispute versus when nine black Americans are gunned down in a terror attack.

    I monitoured this and it took nearly two days before even the Guardian woke up. To not immediately see what happened as terrorism speaks volumes to the disconnect with the historic civil rights struggle. They could connect with Ferguson, Baltimore, they could not with this.

    It also took Jon Stewart’s comments before ‘liberal’ America woke up, I would add. The immediate reaction was about a lack of understanding of what happened as a terrorist attack, like the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. It was all about being just another mass shooting, gun control etc.

    Look at the timelines on progressive white versus progressive black immediate reaction. Greenslade at the Guardian had a great piece on how UK media covered it, or did not, and there is reporting on how US cable news refused to go to live coverage when it happened.

    Thankfully the DoJ under a black President and a black, female Attorney General will look to prosecute as terrorism.

    Way to go @SteveH to use this to make a partisan shot at the AWL. Shameless.

  5. Paul Canning said,

    @Political tourist – My favourite blog on US politics has a good piece here about the connections between the killer’s politics and that of the so-called mainstream US right wing

  6. Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

    Attempting to make comparisons between world wide Islamic facism and
    a few renegade white supremists is unbelievably naive but not unexpected from the loonies on the left. No wonder the left is in the wilderness.

  7. Celow Pippenfists said,

    Jim: how happy are you – on a scale of 1 to 10 – with the quality of the commenters on your blog?

  8. damon said,

    As much as I rate Jon Stewart, that’s a poor piece by him.
    It’s pedestrian and safe. Race is far more complex than that, where it now has a huge body of ideology behind it. Listen to Dotun Adebayo’s Sunday evening BBC London programme to see where that is. They were discussing this last night.

    And Paul Canning, that is an even worse opinion that you link to there.
    Some of the American mainstream right is pretty horrible, but there are valid criticisms to be made of the black political movement.
    Including Black lives Matter and Travon Martin.
    Those that make criticisms of that movement are not necessarily wrong.

    A proper debate would have to be had, but that can’t happen.
    So it’s a mess.

    • Paul Canning (@pauloCanning) said,

      @Damon – I don’t understand your criticism. Sorry. The show you link to is titled ‘skin colour’, Stewart was talking about Charleston needing to be called terrorism. This came after numerous public figures called it anything but that.

      This is nothing to do with what Adebayo is presumably talking about (the show is 2 hours long, point me at where Charleston comes up and I may listen). This is about the ‘Southern Strategy’ initiated by Reagan, how racism is the South has become codified but remains engrained (the Confederate battle flag), how right wing militias and white supremacists cannot be tackled properly becomes of Republican resistance. It is about history.

      That Charleston church is a symbol of black resistance, of the struggle for civil rights. In fact its one of the biggest symbols in the entire South, the guy drove 200 miles to particularly attack it. This is what got me about the reaction – that it was so slow to realise what had happened because it had, I assume, forgotten its history.

      “there are valid criticisms to be made of the black political movement.
      Including Black lives Matter and Travon Martin.”

      Maybe there are but unless you grasp the historical significance you will never understand what happened.

      I totally disagree on ‘debate’ as well. Look at what s happening now over the flag on the right.

      • damon said,

        @ Paul Canning -Dotun Adebayo’s has been doing that Sunday night show for more than ten years and I listen often, as I think it’s kind of esential. It shows you the kind of thinking and political views that are most prevalent within the London black community. My conclusion is that there is a great social and cultural rift between that community and the mainstream of British society.
        Here is a page index of dozens of his programmes.

        In short, I’d say that most of his conversations and the guests he has in the studio every week are talking about greviences and things that are unfair and wrong with the wider society. The politics of the show are the mainstream of black politics, which means the likes of Simon Woolley and Operation Black Vote, and the Dianne Abbott/Lee Jasper world view of race issues.
        I have a big problem with this overview, and it’s reinforced after listening to Dotun on a Sunday, and then watching the BBC’s current programme on the Metropolitan Police last night, where the subject was mainly about Operation Tridant, the Met’s unit that tackles gun and gang crime within the black community. If you didn’t see it, you should.

        It starts off with a police call to a housing estate in Clapham after reports of a stabbing at a party. The police turn up and the area is full of young black people, some of whom start giving the police a bit of lip, and even a bit of physical ”shoulder barging” as one officer calls it.

        So the two programmes are very much at odds with each other.
        One is always talking of black people as being victims of white racism, and the other shows the everyday reality in an area with a large black population, where it is black people who are more at home in the streets and estates than any other community that might live there.
        If white racists started causing problems in Clapham and Lambeth for example, you wouldn’t expect them to fair very well.

        I know of white people who have grievances about just that situation.
        People probably not that different to the Charleston killer.
        But they don’t have guns and are not inclined to actually go and do harm to people. What they are more likely to have done is to have moved out of London. One person I know who is a bit of a racist about how south London changed since the 1970s, now lives near Redhill.
        He didn’t want his children going to schools where white children were a minority, and where they speak what’s known as ”multicultural London english”.
        Let’s be clear, he is a racist, but in his mind, he also has some greviences too.
        I try to understand people’s mindsets rather than just condemning them. If you are a bit of an old fashioned 1970s style white racist, it must be hellish living on a housing estate that has it’s own little ”post code gang” of the kind that Operation Tridant takes an interest in.

        I’ve been in the USA a few times and the cultural racial divide can be just breathtaking. In some ways it can be like Northern Ireland, with the different communities living on different sides of town, and then sharing the same commercial spaces like at some medium sized town in the middle of nowhere’s shopping mall.
        I’m not surprised that there can be a ”them and us” mood prevailing in many places, particularly in the south for example. One such place I was in was in Arkansas I remember. It felt kind of uneasy and very divided in the shopping mall I was at one time. It’s the way people carry themselves and the body language they give off.

        This is just me trying to understand why racism is so persistent and seemingly an un-healable problem. Listen to the Black lives Matter campaigners or the NAACP and it seems like America is rotten to it’s core.

        This is what I meant about having a proper conversation about race.
        The issue about the Confederate flag is a bit of a sideshow in comparison. Again it reminds me of Northern Ireland a bit where flags and symbols are such a big issue. Catholic Nationalists there forced the removal of the Union Flag from Belfast’s city hall because they insisted it signified Protestant dominance and sectarianism. Unionists saw it differently and many were bitter about its removal.

        As to what to call this murderous attack on the black people in the church …. I have a lot of time for this black American linguist John McWhorter.

      • caseypurvis said,


      • Paul Canning (@pauloCanning) said,

        Thank you for your response Damon.

        Yes, McWhorter is someone to pay attention to. However, I again do not think that he is recognising history. Indeed, in his piece he does not cover it. By this I mean that the historic actions against blacks may have been recognised then simply as ‘terorising’ but really the notion of ‘terrorism’ only came in in the 90s and then in relation to Al Queda. The idea of ‘hate crime’ is similarly recent.

        He is discussing semantics, after all his area, but he is missing something. ‘Terrorism’ is defined and this attack literally fits that definition. If he wants to place this use of ‘terrorism’ in a context he should look beyond comparison with Islamist attacks.

        What happened in Charleston was linked by history to what happened in the past as ‘terrorising’, eg lynching. This is why the flag issue is not irrelevant and the fact that so many right wingers now agree that it should be moved is a marker of the impact of the civil rights movement today.

        The segregation you experience in the USA is directly linked to history and recent history at that – redlining, bussing.

        On London black politics and white grievance. On the former, obviously those you mention only represent some people. There are black Conservatives after all!

        The first Met doc had a black police commander being insulted to his face. Jaspar is now calling for no black people to join the Met. This is nihilism.

        This is a socialist viewpoint on Duggan which makes points which I agree with

        On your latter point, I have found the left’s reception of UKIP to be intensely flawed and this represents much of the problem I think you are speaking to. Socialist politics that is disconnected to working class experience is empty and this is what happens when whole swathes of people are dismissed as racists, and therefore irredeemable.

  9. damon said,

    I agree with your first points about what you say about McWhorter’s piece.
    But I’m not so sure of this line:
    ”What happened in Charleston was linked by history to what happened in the past as ‘terrorising’, eg lynching.”

    It’s a link, only so far as this isolated loser chose to dream up some kind of link. And his displaying of the Confederate flag for example. He wasn’t even alive to see South African apartheid in operation. But he’s made himself a somebody now, which may have been his main motivation.
    There was a pretty good article about this in Spiked today.

    In a country awash with guns, where a kid gets given one for his 21st birthday by his parents, this kind of thing is going to happen sometimes.

    On the flag, it’s days may well be numbered now, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a symbol of racism. It’s just that enough people insist that it is.
    In the same way, that if enough people insist that it was racist that Morris dancers had blacked up faces when David Cameron posed for a picture with them, then it was racist. (Even though there was another explanation that had nothing to do with black people).
    People insisted it was racist, so it made news for the day.
    As did the guy from the society of black lawyers when he insisted that the England football manager was being racist when he made some odd comment about hoofing the ball up to the ”monkey on the wing” – because the guy on the wing was black. It’s rubbish, but these people seem to shape the debate on race.

    Lee Jasper is pretty poisonous, and Ken Livingston chose him to be his advisor on race and the Met police. That was poor judgement from Ken.

    That was a very good position on Mark Duggan made by the fireman in the link you made. There are hundreds of people like Duggan running around London. Did he ever have a legitimate job in his life?
    That whole ”gangsta lifestyle” that so many young people seem to look up to has to be a cause of white racism. And one of the reasons the police get so much flack for their stop and search procedures, is that they can’t tell who is the real hoodie gangster liable to be carrying a knife, or out to mug people, and who are just teenagers who copy the fashion and have the lingo.
    Even in the USA I have my suspicions that the police aren’t half as bad as the black political movements make them out to be. It must be a really hard job to police tough ghetto areas.

    And I agree with you on Ukip too I think.
    I have no time for them politically, but they represent a hell of a lot of ordinary people. There’s a guy on LBC radio in London (James O’Brien) who calls them ”the BNP in Blazers” and was even asking the question today ”has racism got worse in England in the last ten years?”
    He’s so holier than thou when it comes to racism, but chooses to live in a posh house in Chiswick, away from most extreme types of diversity that he’s always championing.

  10. Paul Canning (@pauloCanning) said,

    Just on the Spiked article (I usually avoid them but am indulging you :]). It denies that racism continues to exist when masses of evidence says otherwise. It is possible to say, on the one hand, that this is not the 1960s and dismiss radical over claiming but, on the other hand, recognise racism’s continued existence. This writer just does the former.

    You just have to look at current news. Example, Zara in New York being called on its disproportionate and secretive targeting of black customers as thieves. Every single black American knows that experience, including the President and Oprah. Same goes for treatment by police. Only black youth have to get ‘the talk’ on how to behave around police so they don’t die, not white kids.

    The Spiked writer also ignores the existence of organised white supremacists groups, which have massively grown since Obama’s election. As SPLC have documented, those groups are behind “a domestic terror attack or foiled plot [occurring] every 34 days over the last six years.”

  11. damon said,

    I just looked up the Zara story. How are you going to overcome that kind of prejudice and profiling? Even Jesse Jackson has said it shames him to turn around and look at the person walking up behind him at night and being relieved to see that it’s a white person.
    As humans we are programmed to profile and sense danger and threat. Travon Martin might have been a good boy, but wearing a hoodie in Florida is done for the street look of it, not for keeping your head warm. So people come to wrong conclusions.
    When I see young black boys at a local school to me, standing at the bus stop with hairstyles like the rapper Snoop Dog, I make assumptions about their character. I presume they don’t read much literature for example and have a poor understanding of defered gratification.

    When people slam racism so hard, they are really slagging off human beings. We’ve always been like that. I’ve heard African Americans saying the most racist things about immigrant Chinese and Vietnamese people.
    And have you not seen the TV programmes about the tough California prisons where the Mexican, black and white prisoners all team up along racial lines.
    In Los Angeles there is great resentment at times, about formerly black areas being ” taken over” by immigrant minorities.

    As for the white supremasist groups, well they are there, but are far from the mainstream. I agree about cops and black boys (John McWhorter gave me the heads up on that) but cops are reacting to bad behaviour of other black people. Look at the teen murder stats. It’s all black kids killing each other. It’s been particularly bad in Chicago recently. What’s a cop to do when he sees all these ghetto kids hanging about on the corners at known drug dealing spots?

    Anyway, stick with the Spiked stuff. They have a couple of excellent articles every week. You might have to wade through a bit of dross to find them though.
    Also, Dotun Adebayo’s Sunday evening show is good for learning about how many black people feel about race issues in England.
    It’s not really a good picture that you get, and I wonder if you can ever get past it, because it’s so much about perceptions.
    Doreen Lawrence is convinced that she gets watched more closely at the supermarket because she’s black for example. Why would security guards do that? A majority of them in London are black and minority ethnic themselves, so what’s going on there?

  12. caseypurvis said,


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