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Jon Stewart knows people listen to him more because he's white

"If we're having this much trouble removing a symbol of racism, we're in deep dookie if we want to remove actual racism. It's a deeply complex, systemic cancer that's spread throughout our nation."

That was The Daily Show's Jessica Williams Monday night, talking about the push to remove the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina's state Capitol grounds, in the aftermath of a white supremacy-inspired shooting that killed nine people at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

The point was a good one in and of itself. But Williams, along with Stewart, also used it to make a larger one: that sometimes, when it comes to discussions of racism in America, it takes a white person making a point before a large portion of the population will listen.

In a parody of this phenomenon, Jordan Klepper repeatedly ignored Williams's points about the Confederate flag (including: "It was the official jersey of Team Slavery in the Civil War") while congratulating Stewart for repeating the same points — and in one case, just gesturing and not even getting a whole sentence out — moments later.

The segment ends with a skit in which Williams hired a "Helper Whitey" — a white person to follow her around and represent her interests — because, as she put it, "For some reason black people need a white person to get their message out."

This all seemed to be inspired in part by the overwhelming reaction to the somber monologue Stewart delivered last week, condemning both racism and gun violence in the wake of the Charleston shooting.

"I heard someone in the news say, 'Tragedy has visited this church.' This wasn't a tornado. This was a racist. This is a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater," Stewart said on that episode. "I hate to even use this pun, but this one is black and white. There's no nuance here."

"Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them who wanted to start some kind of civil war," he added. "The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina. And the roads are named for Confederate generals. And the white guy is the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him. We're bringing it on ourselves. And that's the thing: al-Qaeda, all those guys, ISIS, they're not shit compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis."

Yes, it was smart and well-delivered — and the serious departure from his normal antics certainly helped grab viewers' attention and make it go viral. But even Stewart seems to realize that it likely wouldn't have had the same impact coming from someone of a different race.


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