Jon Stewart talks about the current unrest

In an interview about his new film Irresistible, Stewart gives his opinion on the current situation.

Early on in the interview, he addressed the police killing of George Floyd: “I’d like to say I’m surprised by what happened to him, but I’m not,” he said. “This is a cycle, and I feel that in some ways, the issue is that we’re addressing the wrong problem. We continue to make this about the police — the how of it. How can they police? Is it about sensitivity and de-escalation training and community policing? All that can make for a less-egregious relationship between the police and people of color.”

“But the how isn’t as important as the why, which we never address,” he continued. “The police are a reflection of a society. They’re not a rogue alien organization that came down to torment the black community. They’re enforcing segregation. Segregation is legally over, but it never ended. The police are, in some respects, a border patrol, and they patrol the border between the two Americas. We have that so that the rest of us don’t have to deal with it. Then that situation erupts, and we express our shock and indignation. But if we don’t address the anguish of a people, the pain of being a people who built this country through forced labor — people say, ‘I’m tired of everything being about race.’ Well, imagine how [expletive] exhausting it is to live that.”

Yep, that’s right.


  1. says

    I remember when Stewart held his “both sides are just as bad and only dispassionate centrists are reasonable” rally. I’m curious how he looks back on that.

  2. publicola says

    Yeah, I have to agree. Maybe this is why civil authorities don’t weed out the bullies and the racists when they hire-- because they want them there to do their unspoken dirty work, keeping their public hands clean.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    this is why civil authorities don’t weed out the bullies and the racists when they hire

    This made me think that there’s an even more fundamental problem.

    Consider: what if you did weed out the racists and bullies when you hired for the police. What if you weeded them out when you hired soldiers, and lawyers, and doctors, and nurses, and teachers, and bar staff, and waiters, bus drivers, shop assistants, flight attendants, plumbers, bricklayers, delivery drivers, receptionists, hairdressers, and on and on and on.

    What if we did achieve the liberal utopia where basically everyone you interact with on your day-to-day movement through the world has passed a test to prove they’re not a racist or a bully?

    Where are all the fuckwits going to to go?. How are they going to live? “Fuck ’em” is not an acceptable answer, because remember, the population of the US provably consists of AT LEAST sixty three million provable absolute irretrievable fucking morons. And while they are that, they are also human beings with a right to life. They’re one in five of everyone alive there, and you can’t just make them go away.

    This is not a facetious question: it’s a laudable and desirable goal to remove that 20% of the population from jobs where they can negatively affect the lives of others -- not just people of colour, either. You can bet that if a cop is the sort of person who kneels on a black man’s neck, he’s not the kind of guy non-morons are just aching to hang around with. He’s the kind of guy even his friends probably roll their eyes about behind his back. But if you achieve the dream, and remove those people from the workforce -- where do they go?

    The corollary of the “racists and bullies should be weeded out of the police” is “are there occupations that ARE suitable for the employment of racists and bullies? If so -- what are they? If not -- how do the rest of us house, clothe, feed and occupy the time of these idiots?”

    I don’t have an answer to this, but I also don’t see anyone even considering the question.

  4. ardipithecus says

    Any job where they are not in authority over others.

    Jobs where their opportunities to abuse their authority are effectively kept in check. (When I worked in a mine, we had several thuggish bosses. The union and the grievance procedure kept them from doing much harm.)

    Keep them out of policing.

  5. kestrel says

    @sonofrojblake (and I’ve always wanted to ask -- is that a reference to Blake’s 7? If so, awesome) -- I think part of the reason they are even there in the first place (I mean, bigots and racists) is deliberate de-funding of education that has been going on for a very long time. I think that’s part of public schooling: teaching children that other people are human beings, just like they are human. However for as long as I’ve been alive (it’s a while, we don’t need to go into that) there has been pushback against public education by the very same people who desperately need it. And mind you, facts about history and other cultures are not the only thing you learn in public school -- you also learn about other people and how to interact with them. Now, more and more, I see people doing home schooling, or failing that, specialty schools with a religious basis. I grant you there are those who do an excellent job of homeschooling, but one thing you can never learn while going to school with your own family is what other people think, and how to interact with those other people. Neither can you learn about other people and getting along with them at a religious institution where everyone else thinks and acts exactly the way you do. I think it’s why conservatives fear college so much that they’ve made it very difficult for most people to go -- they might go there and find out that all those people that mommy and daddy hate are actual human beings and not monsters.

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