Jon Stewart, who was so giddy on Tuesday, was grim and frustrated during last night's Daily Show. He explained he didn't have anything funny for the first segment, "I apologize. I got nothing for you in terms of jokes and sounds, because of what happened in South Carolina. And 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'm confident though that by acknowledging it—by staring into it—we still won’t do jack shit. Yeah, that's us."
Nine members of a historic black church were fatally shot by a white man, who allegedly said, "I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go." The suspected shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, apparently allowed one woman to live, so she could detail the horror.
Stewart called it a clear act of terrorism and said the South is intractably steeped in racism:
What blows my mind is the disparity of response...between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves. If this had been what we thought was Islamic terrorism... 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 counties, all to keep Americans safe. We gotta to whatever we can — we'll torture people! — we've got to do whatever we can to keep Americans safe. Nine people shot in a church, what about that? 'Hey, whadya gonna do, crazy is as crazy does.' That's the part that I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around...
...You know it -- you know -- that it's going to go down the same path. They're already using the nuanced language of lack of effort for this. This is a terrorist attack. This is a violent attack on the Emmanuel Church in South Carolina which is a symbol for the black community. It has stood in that part of Charleston for a hundred-some years and has been attacked viciously over the years as many black churches have been.
I heard someone on the news say, well 'tragedy has visited this church.' This wasn't a tornado. This was a racist. This was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater.
So the idea...I hate to use the pun, but this one is black and white. There is no nuance here. And we're gonna keep pretending, like 'I don't get get it, what happened, this one guy lost his mind. We're steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize. I can't 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. That's—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 kind 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, all those guys, ISIS. They're not shit compared to the damage we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.
Stewart spent the rest of the show speaking with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai, the teen who was shot in the head by the Taliban as she took a bus to school. She said of the tragedy that, yes, "for a second you think that no one has feelings at all," but "Our prayers are with the families, we pray for peace, we pray for the prosperity of everyone."