The June 15, 2020 issue of The New York Times Magazine has a feature interview with Jon Stewart being interviewed by David Marchese, called, “Jon Stewart is Back to Weigh In.”
When asked about George Floyd’s murder by police:
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.
About recognizing ambivalence about law-enforcement:
It can be true that you can value and admire the contribution and sacrifice that it takes to be a law-enforcement officer or an emergency medical worker in this country and yet still feel that there should be standards and accountability. Both can be true. But I still believe that the root of this problem is the society that we’ve created that contains this schism, and we don’t deal with it, because we’ve outsourced our accountability to the police.
Facing the reality of centuries-long oppression of a people in the United States:
You know, we’re in a bizarre time of quarantine. White people lasted six weeks and then stormed a state building with rifles, shouting: ‘‘Give me liberty! This is causing economic distress! I’m not going to wear a mask, because that’s tyranny!’’ That’s six weeks versus 400 years of quarantining a race of people. The policing is an issue, but it’s the least of it. We use the police as surrogates to quarantine these racial and economic inequalities so that we don’t have to deal with them.
Jon has made a movie, “Irresistable,” that is making a theatrical and video-on-demand premier on June 26. (Just saw Plan B — Brad Pitt movie company is involved also.)
Jon’s thoughts on the movie:
So the idea was to satirize that, to get people to step back and go, ‘‘Participation in this corrupt system is inherently a corrupting process.’’ Because until we view it from that perspective, we will find ourselves stuck in it. That was the thought process behind the movie.
Important words of wisdom about the role of the journalist:
The media’s job is to deconstruct the manipulation, not to just call it a lie. It’s about informing on how something works so that you understand the lie’s purpose. What are the structural issues underneath the lie? The media shouldn’t take the political system personally, or allow its own narcissism to rise to the narcissism of the politicians, or become offended that the politicians are lying — their job is to manipulate.
The voice of reason and reality.
Racism is built into this system. But not all the people in it are malevolent and active racists. There is an inert racism that exists, and it’s pernicious, but I don’t believe everybody who’s part of it is evil. So it’s more a question of trying to remove a right-left axis from the conversation and instead create a conversation around conditions. Poverty is poverty. The right will talk about poverty a certain way, and the left will talk about poverty a different way, but poor people are still poor people. They’re still without political power.
A prescription and assignment for citizens of the USA:
There are issues, but again, we point a spotlight on the anecdotal and pretend that it’s universal. What that does is feed the narrative for people who want to use it for their own purposes. That’s what drives me bananas. We’re basically having giant public fights about symbolism, while the reality of our situation goes unexamined. You’re talking to me; I made a stupid movie about this, but underpinning that movie is a real thing, and the real thing is the corruption and the incompetence that we don’t even think about.
Read the full article here.