“The Problem with Jon Stewart”


“Every single white person upholds the systems and structures of white supremacy.”
— Lisa Bond

Test: Can I discuss this without losing my cool (centeredness)?

What happened

On a show I’ve never heard of, The Problem with Jon Stewart; on a network I’ve never heard of, Apple TV+; Jon Stewart and a panel I’ve never heard of, notably including one Lisa Bond; basically played “Smear the Queer” with a guest I’ve never heard of, Andrew Sullivan.

I’ve heard of Laura Ingraham, and don’t like her. I’ve heard of Jon Stewart, and don’t like him, either. On the pertinent segment of The Ingraham Angle (link here), she says many things about him that I don’t approve of. All of which is beside the point.

I searched for and could not find a copy of the complete episode, “The Problem with White People;” at least, not for free. I did find these portions:

It included this exchange:

STEWART: Andrew, you’re not living on the same [gratuitous obscenity] planet we are. Honestly. I really don’t think you are.

SULLIVAN: I think you’re not living, I think you are not living on the planet most Americans are, which is why this kind of extremism, this anti-White extremism is losing popular support, is creating a backlash, is gonna elect Republicans and undo a lot of the good you think you’re doing.

BOND: This is what happens when you don’t talk about it. This is what happens when White people don’t talk about it, is, you have racist dogwhistle tropes like this that actually perpetuate and perpetuate and perpetuate.

So I am–and I did not come on this show sit here and argue with another White man. That’s one of the reasons that we don’t even engage White men at Race2Dinner. You know, because quite honestly if White men were going to do something about racism, you had 400 years. You coulda done it.

SULLIVAN: I am 58 years old.

BOND: I’m shutting you down right now.

SULLIVAN: I am not responsible for anyone before me.

BOND: The point is I am so tired of just engaging in this conversation and this deep hurt that Andrew has about talking about racism…. All of us White people do this. I don’t care if we say we’re abolitionists. I don’t care if we say we’re progressive. I don’t care if we are literally members of the KKK. Every single White person upholds these systems and structures of White supremacy and we have got to talk about it.

Stewart’s speech is full of gratuitous obscenities.

She didn’t say, “some,” she didn’t say, “most,” …

… she said, “Every single white person.”

So, I stand accused.

Is she correct? I decided to examine myself for a day.

Now, some of this will sound unusual. Maybe I’m an unusual person. I can’t help that.

I am a homeless white man housed in a City-owned shelter. 98%+ of the men around me are black. Most of them have spent years in prison, and currently use drugs. Most of them are wealthier than me. Some of them look down on me for sleeping in my clothes, the only clothes I have. The staff is 100% black; many of them have spent years in prison, too.

A typical day, for me, goes like this. I wake up; record in my diary my bedtime, wake-up time, and any dreams. Then I go to the nearby shopping center; buy smokes at the convenience store (Staff: half black, half South Asian); buy a large, iced mocha coffee at the Dunkin’ Donuts (staff: half black, half South Asian); and sit outside smoking cigarettes and drinking my coffee. I watch the (peaceable) sparrows and the (quarrelsome) starlings; and listen to the robins and the purple finches and the mockingbirds. When people come — The clientele at this shopping center are somehow overwhelmingly black, and overwhelmingly drive nice cars. — I send (project) love toward each person I see, perhaps thinking, “God bless this person.” I enjoy doing that. When I feel a foul mood coming on, I seek to sublimate those energies into desire for some thing that will please me, such as permanent housing.

Break time over, I go back to my bunk; meditate (focus: “Love all.“). Then comes my prayer time. I pray for half a dozen chronic personal health concerns. I pray for permanent housing, and the five people (100% black) who are working to help me find it. I pray for my brothers and their wives (100% white); a personal prayer list (Let’s see: Lisa, Kurt, Reggie, Anne — 75% white); the residents of this shelter; my congregation and its community (80% black); the junkies who frequent the church garden (mostly white); the five principal church gardeners (80% black); and the church prayer list (I have no clue as to racial composition.).

Back to Dunkin’ Donuts.

On return to my bunk, I take my medicines, brush my teeth, do a housing search, and meditate again (focus: same as before).

Back to Dunkin’ Donuts.

Back at my bunk, it’s time to surf the Net and work on my blog and/or podcast.

Back to Dunkin’ Donuts.

Supper.

One last trip to Dunkin’ Donuts. More work on diary, blog or podcast.

Bedtime.

I do this every day. One day is pretty much the same as the next.

In which of these activities do I uphold white supremacy? None.

I stand wrongly accused.

How shall I respond to Lisa Bond? I am a Recovery person, and want to respond in a Recovery way. Two Recovery principles are foremost in my mind: “Keep the focus on you,” and “Live and let live.”

“Keep the focus on you.”

Properly speaking, this means I should talk only about me, not Jon Stewart or Lisa Bond. But I’ve already told in detail about how I spend my days, from one day to the next. My energies are overwhelmingly focused on managing my own affairs. Why does Recovery teach this?

“You,” or I myself, is the only person or thing in the world one can absolutely control. This is the one person or thing in the world over which one has responsibility, power, or say. On the one hand, there is little point or usefulness in paying much attention to anyone else; and particularly, none in finding fault with someone else. What happens when one does that? One loses energy. One loses power. One loses joy and strength. One feels drained. One may become irritable.

Is Lisa Bond irritable?

Does she keep the focus on her? Does Jon Stewart keep the focus on him? No, he does not; thus Laura Ingraham’s first observation, about his lack of self-awareness. Well, let them be them. I need to keep my focus on me.

“Live and let live.”

I’ve learned a great deal about this in the past nine months, mainly through learning to love Trumpers. I need to love her just as she is, without seeking to change her mind; without seeking even to understand her; without any desire that she change in any way.

Same old same old

Jon Stewart is a heckler.

I don’t like categories, and I don’t like labels, but the definition fits.

A heckler is a spectator who hurls insults at a player. He has no accountability, given his anonymity as a voice in the crowd. He’s not doing any work; he’s not playing the game; he’s not exerting or sweating. The man or woman he insults has skills far in excess of the heckler’s own, and has toiled mightily to get where she or he is. The heckler has done none of that.

I am without evidence that Jon Stewart has ever had meaningful relations with a black person; that he’s ever served at a soup kitchen, or worked at a food pantry, or visited a homeless shelter or methadone clinic.

At bottom, the heckler is profoundly self-loathing; as Laura Ingraham also remarked about Jon Stewart.

William Tell’s new slogan may be, or be becoming, “Enjoy life.” Just like many Trumpers, who are like they are because they don’t want to; Stewart does not want to enjoy life. I might pray that he would.

One day, in the middle of this composition, I ran into my bud Ron Brown at Dunkin’ Donuts. Hadn’t seen him in three years or more; we were both at the previous shelter for a long time. I have a warm place to sleep at night, and a roof over my head. He’s sleeping in doorways. Jon Stewart and Lisa Bond? Their priorities are profoundly confused.

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