In the wake of last week’s massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, where acknowledged racist Dylann Storm Roof shot and killed nine people during a prayer meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Jon Stewart began his show on Thursday with an apology to the audience for his inability to do his job, namely, spend the day coming up with jokes based upon the day’s news.
“I didn’t do my job today,” he said, overcome by the sadness brought on by the brutal killings.
“Just sadness, once again, that we have to peer into the abyss of deprived violence that we do to each other in the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal yet we pretend it doesn’t exist.”
“I’m confident that by acknowledging it, by staring into that, by seeing it for what it is, we still won’t do jack shit.”
Sadly, he’s probably right. President Barack Obama spoke on the shooting on Wednesday night, the 14th time during his presidency that he’s addressed mass shootings, and was, predictably attacked on various fronts, mostly by the right-wing media. Said Obama:
“Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear:
At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it.
I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it. And at some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.
The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history. This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked. And we know that hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals.”
An NRA board member, Charles Cotton, went so far off the deep end to actually blame one of the victims, Clementa Pinckney, the pastor at the church and also a state senator, for his own death and those of the eight others who were killed.
As a state senator, Pinckney supported tougher gun regulations and opposed a bill that would have allowed people to carry concealed guns in churches. On TexasCHLForum.com, a message board, Cotton wrote that “Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”
The nine victims, three men and six women, ranged in age from 26 to 87.
Stewart also addressed the issue of the Confederate flag which is still allowed to fly in many state in the U.S. south, including over the capital building in Columbia, about 100 miles from the scene of the massacre.
“The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina, and the roads are named for Confederate generals,” Mr. Stewart continued, “and the white guy is the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him.”
And below, some of the most powerful coverage of the gruesome event: victims’ family members addressing Roof and granting him forgiveness.