On Monday, Jon Stewart said what many Americans were thinking when they first heard the bizarre story of Rachel Dolezal, the former president of the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the NAACP and a white woman who has been passing as black for years.
"That's crazy," he said in disbelief. "There's an NAACP chapter in Spokane?"
In his first night on the air since the once-obscure civil rights activist became the talk of the Internet for apparently passing as black for years, Stewart used her unlikely tale as inspiration for a new segment called "Whaaaaaaaat?"
Stewart joked that Dolezal, whose parents claim she has Czech, German and Swedish ancestry, was so white that "even Powder is like, that's one white lady."
While the comedian relished the absurdity of the situation, he took issue with media observers who used Dolezal -- "a singular incident unrepresentative of any larger construct" -- to make sweeping claims about liberals and race relations in America.
In response to conservative commentator Larry Elder, who wondered why a white person would pretend to be black "if racism is so pernicious," Stewart fired back with a question of his own: "If being black is such a sweet deal, why are millions of white people ignoring this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?"
No one in the media should make any conclusions based on the behavior of one woman. "Clearly liberal culture has reached its nadir, Rome has fallen yet racism is over," he said sarcastically, "all because a German lady got a weave."
Stewart's pal Larry Wilmore also had plenty to say on the subject, devoting an entire episode of "The Nightly Show" to "crazypants white lady" Dolezal.
"She's not just white, she's Laura Linney white," said Wilmore, who wasn't convinced by Dolezal's defensive claim that "we're all from the African continent."
"Yes," he said, "but some of us more recently than others."
"Sorry lady, you are white," he concluded. "This is not a Buzzfeed quiz: which 'Living Single' character are you?"
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