Jon Stewart gave his first post-election interview this week to Charlie Rose at CBS’s This Morning. It was not a live interview, and considering the type of conversation, I think the interview might have been better served on 60 Minutes or The Charlie Rose Show. Because all I got from these five minutes was a headache. Stewart has always maintained that his 15-plus years on the Daily Show were about comedy, not news or politics. He wanted to be seen as a comedian and satirist, not a pundit or political intellectual. One of the worst criticisms lodged at Stewart – and a criticism which I often agreed with – is that he too fell into the trap of false equivalencies and anecdotal evidence in lieu of actual data, facts and pragmatism. That’s what this week’s interview reminded me of – that Jon Stewart wants to see the best in people, in the face of lunacy, misogyny, fascism and white supremacy. Here’s the video:
We’re still America: “I don’t believe we are a fundamentally different country today than we were two weeks ago. The same country with all its grace and flaws, and volatility, and insecurity, and strength, and resilience exists today as existed two weeks ago. The same country that elected Donald Trump elected Barack Obama. This election, to me is just another extension of the long argument that we’ve had from our founding, which is: What are we? I feel badly for the people for whom this election will mean more uncertainly and insecurity. But I also feel like this fight has never been easy.”
All of Trump’s supporters are not racist: “I thought Donald Trump disqualified himself at numerous points. But there is now this idea that anyone who voted for him is — has to be defined by the worst of his rhetoric. Like, there are guys in my neighborhood that I love, that I respect, that I think have incredible qualities who are not afraid of Mexicans, and not afraid of Muslims, and not afraid of blacks. They’re afraid of their insurance premiums. In the liberal community, you hate this idea of creating people as a monolith. Don’t look as Muslims as a monolith. They are the individuals and it would be ignorance. But everybody who voted for Trump is a monolith, is a racist. That hypocrisy is also real in our country.”
Draining the swamp: “The ultimate irony of this election is the cynical strategy of the Republicans, which is: ‘Our position as government doesn’t work. We’re going to make sure … that it doesn’t work.’… But they’re not draining the swamp. [Mitch] McConnell and [Paul] Ryan, those guys are the swamp. And what they decided to do was, ‘I’m going to make sure government doesn’t work and then I’m going to use its lack of working as evidence of it. Donald Trump is a reaction not just to Democrats, to Republicans. He’s not a Republican, he’s a repudiation of Republicans. But they will reap the benefit of his victory, in all of their cynicism.”
The unnatural republic: “Natural is tribal. We’re fighting against thousands of years of human behavior and history to create something that no one’s ever — that’s what’s exceptional about America and that’s what’s, like, this ain’t easy. It’s an incredible thing.”
I don’t want to be the one to say this, but Jon reeks of privilege. Yes, he makes some noise about how Trump “disqualified himself” but basically what Jon is saying is that America is still fine, and people voted for Trump for completely legit reasons that don’t involve p-ssy grabbing, utter policy incoherence and open bigotry, and we need to listen to those reasons and don’t worry, because most of us will be okay. And “most of us” is “anyone with a penis and anyone paler than light beige.”
Obviously, the part that bugged me the most was: “Like, there are guys in my neighborhood that I love, that I respect, that I think have incredible qualities who are not afraid of Mexicans, and not afraid of Muslims, and not afraid of blacks. They’re afraid of their insurance premiums.” While those voters may say that now and may even believe that of themselves, a vote for Donald Trump was always and still remains a vote for racism, a vote for violent misogyny, a vote for anti-Semitic dog whistles, a vote for mass deportations, a vote for a Muslim registry, a vote for putting the biggest knuckle-dragging anti-choice a—holes on every court in the land. You can be concerned about your insurance premiums and still recognize that by voting for Trump, you’re voting for fascism. Unfortunately so many people seem incapable of grasping that. Maybe they’re not racist. But a vote for Trump is enabling racism.
Photos courtesy of WENN.