Charlestown Massacre: There Is Something Seriously Wrong With not only American Society*
Jon Stewart last night made an emotional speech about racism and gun crime during The Daily Show, which is sure to be controversial. Staring at the camera with a solemn face, Stewart began by apologizing to the audience:
“I have one job, and it’s a pretty easy job,” he said, explaining that all he has to do is come in, write some jokes based on the news, and get paid a lot of money for it. “I didn’t do my job today,” Stewart admitted. “I got nothing for you because of what happened in South Carolina.”
The Charlestown church shooting is just the latest in a long line of horrific attacks by lone gunmen in the United States. And while the likes of Alex Jones, the NRA, and even left-wing defenders of the constitution will argue that guns are a right for all free citizens, the rest of the world looks on in horror at American society: in Switzerland, everyone has a gun, and this doesn’t happen there. Clearly, something isn’t right across the pond. Stewart knows this, and his frustration is clear.
“I honestly have nothing other than just sadness that we that we have to peer into the abyss of the deprived violence that we do to each other, and the nexus of a racial wound that will not heal,” he went on. Then comes the only thing close to a joke in this particular segment: “I’m confident though that by acknowledging it, by staring into that and seeing it for what it is, we still won’t do jack shit.” The audience laughed nervously. “Yeah! That’s us!” Stewart responded.
But he didn’t want to talk about gun control. What’s the point? Even Vince Vaughn believes in the right of all Americans to bear arms. It’s a topic that is complicated and controversial, and Stewart doesn’t talk about that here- what’s the point?
The debate that he wants to have is tied up in the United States’s history, present, and future. It’s about the “death machines flying over five or six different countries to ‘keep Americans safe,” in Stewart‘s words. “That’s the part I cant wrap my head around,” he said, his anger showing now. Referencing our collective paranoia and violent reactions to ISIS and Al Quaeda, our drone wars in far-flung countries that most people couldn’t even find on a map, and the deep-rooted racism in American society, Stewart notes:
“It’s the disparity of response between when we think foreign people are going to kill us, and when we kill ourselves.”
A group of young Jewish settlers suspected of torching the Catholic Church of the Multiplication, on the spot where Jesus is believed to have performed a Biblical miracle, have been released without charge. Israel has vowed to find the arsonists.
The church, located on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, was set ablaze early Thursday morning. Graffiti saying, “The false gods will be eliminated,” in Hebrew – a quote from a Jewish prayer – was also daubed on a wall. The church was marking the Biblical story of the Feeding of the 5,000, in which Jesus fed a crowd with five loaves and two fish, and has been rebuilt several times since the fifth century.
The building suffered extensive damage, with the roof partly collapsed and stone walls charred. Several members of the clergy suffered smoke inhalation, and one 80-year-old monk was reportedly hospitalized. The altar of the Catholic church is said to have been left intact, despite the damage to its other rooms. A church shop with Bibles and prayer books was completely destroyed in the fire.
Sixteen Jewish youths visiting the area from the West Bank were detained for questioning following the arson. The group, which included several seminary students and legal minors, were set free with no conditions after their testimonies were taken.
“In an area near the church, 16 youths were detained for investigation in order to check their involvement in the incident before dawn,” Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement. “All 16 were released, with no conditions attached, after being interviewed and giving statements.”
“The shocking arson of the church is an attack on all of us,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Israel’s freedom of religion is a cornerstone of our values and it is anchored in the law. We will mete out justice to those responsible for this atrocious act. We have no room for hatred and intolerance in our society.”
Father Jamal Khader, rector of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary in Beit Jalla in the West Bank, linked the attack with a stone-throwing assault on the same church perpetrated by radical Jewish youths last year, and accused the authorities of “not doing enough” to stop similar incidents.
Known as “price tag” attacks, these acts of vandalism of mainly Muslim and Palestinian, but also Christian and Jewish sites, are supposedly a form of retribution for anti-settler steps and activity, as well as for terrorist attacks against Jews.
Earlier this year, a mosque was set on fire in a village near Bethlehem, with the Star of David and the word “Revenge” painted on one of the walls. Last year, attackers defaced a Catholic church in Jerusalem, daubing the words, “Jesus is garbage.”
Tag Meir, an Israeli anti-racism group, says that no prosecutions have been brought in connection with dozens of such incidents that have taken place over the last three years.
“Punishing these crimes is not a priority for the authorities,” said Yossi Saidov, a Tag Meir activist.
“The message that comes down from the prime minister to the individual policeman is that it’s all right that this happens, it’s not so terrible. If 43 synagogues were attacked in Poland and the authorities didn’t stop it, we would scream that it was anti-Semitism and rightly so.”