Jon Stewart opened the Daily Show Thursday by admitting that the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina had left him unable to come up with any jokes for the day. "I have one job, and it's a pretty simple job. I come in in the morning, we look at the news, and I write jokes about it ... but I didn't do my job today."
Maybe if I wasn’t near the end of the run, or this wasn’t such a common occurrence, maybe I could’ve pulled out of the spiral. But I didn’t. And so, I honestly have nothing other than just sadness once again that 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 am confident, though, that by acknowledging it, by staring into that, and seeing it for what it is, we still won't do jack shit.
Given that similar past episodes of domestic mass violence had failed to bring about significant change, Stewart marvelled at the "disparity of response between when we think people who are foreign are trying to kill us versus us killing ourselves."
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, all to keep Americans safe. We'll torture people. We'll do whatever we can to keep Americans safe. Nine people shot in a church. What about that? [...]
Al-Qaida, all those guys, ISIS, they're not shit compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.
Stewart cited South Carolina's continued public reverence for the Confederacy as part of the "racial wallpaper" in the state. "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."
Stewart spent the rest of the show interviewing Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, "who suffered unspeakable violence by extremists and her perseverance and determination through that, to continue on, is an incredible inspiration."
Malala, who first appeared on the Daily Show in 2013 to discuss being targeted by the Taliban in Pakistan because she supports education for girls, finally got Stewart to laugh by admitting she lords her achievements over her younger brothers. When he said her native Swat Valley looked like a "magical place" in a new documentary, she ribbed him about his prior comparison of their hometowns: "Do you still think it's as beautiful as New Jersey?"
You can read more Slate coverage of the Charleston shooting here.