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Jon Stewart drops jokes for emotional Charleston, SC church shooting monologue

Jon Stewart’s opening monologue of The Daily Show was not accompanied by its usual laughs last night, and that’s because there weren’t any jokes. The comedian showed his serious side by using his monologue to deliver an impassioned message in reaction to the shooting at South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that killed nine people. According to reports, police said that the gunman has confessed to the shooting and that he sought a race war.

Referencing the fact that his show is ending and how widespread gun violence has become, Stewart explained that he had nothing in the way of humor. Instead, he wanted to talk about the church shooting in ways he feels many aren’t. He called out the verbiage being used to describe it, saying, “I heard someone on the news say, ‘Tragedy has visited this church.’ This wasn’t a tornado, this was a racist.” He also questioned why we write off attacks by Americans as the actions of “crazy” people and act as if there’s nothing we can do about it. “What blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kills us and us killing ourselves,” added Stewart.

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Bringing up the history of Emanuel Church, Stewart pointed out that it, like many other black churches, has faced violence in the past. He called the shooting “a terrorist attack,” as well as saying, “This is a violent attack on the Emanuel Church in South Carolina, which is a symbol for the black community.” He went on to criticize the Confederate legacy in South Carolina, where the Confederate flag flies over the state and the roads are named in honor of Confederate generals. “And the white guy’s the one who feels like his country’s being taken away from him,” added Stewart.

Before introducing his guest, Malala Yousafzai, who herself has suffered violence from extremists, Stewart had one last blistering point: “Al-Quada, all those guys, ISIS, they’re not sh*t to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.”

Watch the full monologue below: