Jon Stewart returned to TV this week just as we left him: sitting behind a desk, anxiously clicking his pen as he carefully crafted an argument and called for justice. It couldve been a monologue aired on any episode of The Daily Show. Almost. But instead of Comedy Central, Stewart appeared on our screens via C-SPAN. Instead of laughter, he instilled despair; his one-liners now cutting to our hearts rather than our funny bones. Hes still angry as ever, but hes moved from the peanut gallery into the front row.
We should all take notes: This is what outrage looks like done right. This is how to use shame with purpose and precision, not as a blunt-force tool.
If youve been following the political comedians post-retirement life, his appearance in front of Congress may have been unexpected but not entirely unsurprising. Since leaving television in August 2015, Stewart has pursued a passion project to secure health coverage and benefits for the surviving 9/11 first responders, many of whom have been stricken with cancer and disease in the 18 years after breathing in the toxic fumes of the wreckage. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which supplies first responders with healthcare, is set to expire next year. It should be a stain on all of us that these heroes could die without the help or care that they need.