On Thursday's "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart responded to the massacre in Charleston, S.C.'s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that left nine dead.
As he's done before in moments of national crisis -- perhaps most notably, in his first broadcast following 9/11 -- Stewart substituted the usual punch lines with outrage and frustration.
"I have one job and it's a pretty simple job," Stewart explained at the top of the episode, which in a serendipitous booking featured Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai as a guest. "I come in in the morning and I look at the news and I write jokes about it... I didn't do my job today. I got nothing for you in terms of jokes and sounds because of what happened in South Carolina."
It wasn't as if he needed to explain why he was unable to make light of the day's grim headlines but, with a shrug, Stewart chalked it up to his approaching retirement and the sheer frequency of such mass shootings.
"I honestly I have nothing other than just sadness," he said.
To nervous laughter from the audience, Stewart expressed dismay over what he sees as the certainty that, despite widespread shock and horror over the shooting in Charleston, nothing will be done to prevent such hate-fueled rampages in the future.
"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... We invaded two countries and spent trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives and fly unmanned death machines over like five or six different countries, all to keep Americans safe.
"Nine people shot in a church. What about that? 'Crazy is as crazy is.' That is the part that, for the life of me, I cannot wrap my head around."
Stewart decried what he called the "nuanced language of lack of effort" -- that is, politicians and pundits who condemned the shooting but were hesitant to describe it as an act of terrorism.
"This is a terrorist attack," he said bluntly. "This is a violent attack on Emanuel Church in South Carolina, which is a symbol for the black community."
He described shooting suspect Dylann Roof as "a racist. This was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater. I hate to even use this pun but this one is black and white."
As others did Thursday, Stewart laid some of the blame on the culture in South Carolina, where "black people drive on roads that are named for Confederate generals" and the Confederate flag flies over the state capitol.
"And the white guy is the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him?" he said. "Al Qaeda, all those guys, ISIS, all those guys, they're not... compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis."
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