Late Night Hosts Do What Trump Can’t: Condemn Racism In America

Image via YouTube/Late Night with Seth Meyers

“Ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it”

We're living in a time when late night hosts are able to display more dignity and human decency than the president of the United States. Last night on Late Night with Seth Meyers, the comedian opened with a somber statement addressing the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

"On Saturday there was yet another terror attack on American soil," Meyers said. "This one was allegedly perpetrated by a white supremacist named James Fields against a group of protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia. He drove his car into a crowd and killed a woman named Heather Heyer. It was a horrifying incident that left most of the country stunned and terrified, but on Saturday you didn't hear her name, or the terrorist's name, or even the word 'terrorist' from our president." 

Then Meyers played the clip of Donald Trump talking about the rally, during which he condemned hatred, bigotry, and violence "on many sides." 

"If that choice of words made you feel sick to your stomach, the good news is you're a normal and decent person," Meyers said. "The jury's still out on the president, as he initially refused to condemn the white supremacist movement in this country." 

Meyers went on to point out that Trump's refusal to acknowledge racism isn't that surprising, given that our president himself is racist. He said a lot of people ignored or "played it down" when Trump accused Barack Obama of not being born in America. "It was racist and insane, but he was written off as a clown," he says. Then Meyers rattles off all of the other racist things Trump has done, like call Mexicans rapists, refer to Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas, bring known white supremacist and bigot Steve Bannon into the White House, attempt to deny black people the right to vote, and the list goes on.

"Donald Trump did not immediately denounce the white supremacy movement when given the chance," Meyers said, "and now whether he knows it or not, many of those people see him as leading that movement." Then, he calls Trump out for not being a president at all. “You can stand for a nation, or you can stand for a hateful movement. You can’t do both. And if you don’t make the right choice, I am confident that the American voter will.”

Meyers wasn't the only one speaking up on the issue. Jimmy Fallon opened his monologue on The Tonight Show by saying it was his "responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being." While he was watching the news over the weekend, Fallon said, his daughters, two and four years old, were in the next room playing. "As kids grow up, they need people to look up to," he said. "To show them what's right and good. They need parents, and teachers, and they need leaders who appeal to the best in us. The fact that it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racists and white supremacists is shameful. And I think he finally spoke out because people everywhere stood up and said something."

Then, Fallon emphasized the importance of white people speaking out against white supremacists in America. "Ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it. And remember, there are people who have given their lives to make sure that this kind of hate doesn't spread; they have fought and died on the right side of history. One brave woman in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer, died standing up for what's right at the age of 32. I can't look at my beautiful, growing, curious daughters and say nothing when this kind of thing is happening. We all need to stand against what is wrong, acknowledge that racism exists, and stand up for what is right and civil and kind—and to show the next generation that we haven't forgotten how hard people have fought for human rights. We cannot do this. We can't go backward."

On Late Show, Stephen Colbert joined Fallon and Meyers in denouncing white supremacy and calling out our president for being unwilling to do the same. “Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and it is difficult to express how heartbreaking it is to see something like this happening in our country,” Colbert said. “But here’s one thing that’s not difficult to express: Nazis are bad. The KKK? I’m not a fan. That wasn’t hard. That was easy. I enjoyed saying it.”

Referencing Trump's "many sides," comment, Colbert said, “Mr. President, this is terrorism, not your order at KFC. How can you possibly say you condemn this in the strongest possible terms when you don’t even name the groups responsible or say what they did? I’ve seen angrier Yelp reviews, and they were not afraid to use the word ‘Nazi’ when describing how long their jalapeño poppers took.”

Colbert noted the real irony in having a president who doesn't shy away from controversy and often calls out his enemies in very specific terms—whether it's mocking a journalist's face lift or casually threatening North Korea with nuclear war—be afraid to condemn Nazis. “It’s not like Trump is a shrinking violet; he’s known for criticizing things,” Colbert said. “If only the president was as mad about neo-Nazis murdering people in the streets as he’s been about: Hillary Clinton, the New York Times, CNN, Joe Scarborough, Kristen Stewart, the cast of Hamilton, Diet Coke, Nordstrom not selling his daughter’s clothes, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the mayor of London Sadiq Khan, me, the state of New Hampshire, Gold Star families, Penn Jillette’s Las Vegas show, the movie Django Unchained, Meryl Streep, and lady Ghostbusters.”

Photo courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment/Netflix

We're shook and shaking our heads

Awards season is indeed on the horizon. Today the nominees for the 71st annual Emmy Award nominations were announced, crowning the best in television programming over the past year—from June 1, 2018, through May 31, 2019, specifically. For some performers, creators, crews, networks, and fans, this is a time for celebration and congratulations. For others, it's a moment of disappointment; or at the very least, an opportunity to complain a little bit.

Here are my snubs, surprises, and the nominations that I'm so excited about I could scream.

Snub: Tracee Ellis-Ross in 'black-ish'

Three-time Emmy nominee Tracee Ellis-Ross was not nominated for her role in black-ish, and I would like to speak to the manager.

Snub: 'The Masked Singer'

The Masked Singer might seem gimmicky, but it's actually really good and has shaken up the monotony of other singing competition shows. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough for the Emmy voters.

Surprise: 'Surviving R. Kelly'

I was admittedly surprised to see Surviving R. Kelly validated as one of the most impactful docu-series of the year. It has changed the conversation about sexual assault and grooming and added pressure to law enforcement to hold the singer accountable. It was nominated for Best Informational Series or Special.

Snub: Julia Roberts in 'Homecoming'

Julia Roberts stepped off of her well-established film actress pedestal to bring a PODCAST to life, and this is the thanks she gets? She killed it in Homecoming, and yet it didn't get a single nomination.

Surprise: Beyoncé's 'Homecoming'

Speaking of Homecoming, Beyoncé's Netflix documentary about her 2018 Coachella performance—which doubled as a tribute to HBCUs—was nominated for Best Variety Special. All she has to do is win this, snag an Oscar for The Lion King soundtrack, and put Broadway in her GPS, and Beyhive, we have ourselves an EGOT!

Snub: 'Gentleman Jack'

Gentleman Jack didn't get a single nomination. It hasn't even been a full month since Pride, and we're already shitting on gay rights. Wow.

Snub: 'Grace & Frankie'

I know that Grace & Frankie went off the rails a little bit this year, so I get the show being absent from the Best Comedy Series category. But for neither Lily Tomlin or Jane Fonda to be recognized just feels… wrong.

Snub: 'American Horror Story: Apocalypse'

Jessica Lange is that bitch and deserves her nomination for returning to American Horror Story: Apocalypse. But Evan Peters should have received some recognition for wearing that terrible wig while he played a Satan-worshipping tech bro; Sarah Paulson carried the show; and nothing but respect to MY antichrist, Cody Fern.

Snub: 'Haunting of Hill House'

Another horror series that deserved a chance this year was Haunting of Hill House. It was scary as hell, but also a great drama about a family dealing with grief and trauma. It could be that the Emmy voters were too damn terrified to make it to the end, though. Fair.

Surprise: Billy Porter in 'Pose'

Billy Porter got a Lead Actor nomination for Pose, and I can't think of anyone more deserving. I can't wait to see what he wears on award night.

Surprise: Jharrel Jerome In 'When They See Us'

It cannot be understated how much Jharrel Jerome deserves his nomination for Lead Actor in a Limited Drama Series. His performance in Ava DuVernay's When They See Us still haunts me.

Surprise: Kit Harington In 'Game of Thrones'

Kit Harington as Best Actor. IKYFL.

Photo by David Fisher/Shutterstock

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