Jon Stewart spent some time examining the NFL which actually may have done something right when it refused to punish members of the St. Louis Rams for making the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture during a game. In a rare moment of not sucking, the NFL stood up for the players’ free speech against the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association which had demanded an apology and punishment. Alas, this was all destroyed by the semantics of an apologetic non-apology. In a case of “NFL said, police said,” both sides ended up arguing the semantics and taking attention away from the real issue presented by the Ferguson protests: systematic racism against African-Americans by the police force. On this issue, The Daily Show had no choice but to bring out Senior Black Correspondent Larry Wilmore to school the audience on the arguments being used to invalidate the Ferguson protests.
Larry Wilmore gave a masterful explanation of why the situation is so ridiculous, perhaps offering a taste of what his new show The Nightly Show will be like. As he pointed out, “black on black crime” is a stupid idea. Really, it is all just crime and categorizing it by race makes it sound like a category on a porn site. In fact, black people are already discussing the problem among themselves, like at church on Sunday. Why are white people unaware of this conversation? As Wilmore pointed out to Stewart, white people simply are not there to listen. White people do not know what the African-American community is talking about or thinking because white people are not engaged with the community having that discussion. The point was made simply, but it was made.
Arguments like “We have to stop black on black crime before we talk about racism” actually function to invalidate the Ferguson protests, which Wilmore pointed out. But it is not the only one. Clips from Bill O’Reilly’s show where he accused the Ferguson protesters of being criminals because of looting and of being guilty of creating even more bias against black people were shown as evidence. This made Wilmore express his dream that “one day the actions of a few s—-y white people will be seen as discrediting their entire race.” Images of white people doing stupid things, like playing in the band Nickelback, were played on the screen while he said that. It was an effective way to show the double standard that exists for black people and white people when it comes to their behavior.
Stewart, who had listened relatively quietly during Wilmore’s explanation, asked if America was ever going to get over racism. As Wilmore pointed out, racism and discrimination are a part of human history and have never really stopped. What the country is dealing with right now is nothing new. That is exacerbated by the fact that America (or at least portions of it) deny there is even a problem. Like an alcoholic in his own vomit still claiming that he is not an alcoholic, the country cannot give up on what is effectively an addiction to such conflict. In the Daily Show’s first segment, Larry Wilmore schooled the audience on the Ferguson protests and what they mean, making more sense in a few minutes than at least one entire news channel does all day.
Opinion By Lydia Bradbury