This week’s Last Week Tonight was, unusually, about things that happened last week, “and the reason we’re doing that is that this has been one hell of a week,” John Oliver explained Sunday night. “Tonight we’re going to talk about two things in particular: The Republican National Convention, and the horrific events in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake was repeatedly shot in the back by police and a vigilante killed two people.”
Kimberly Guilfoyle’s loud RNC speech “very much set the tone for the week,” Oliver said. “The main theme of the convention seemed to be ‘Telling Lies in Front of Flags,’ because it was four days of a full-throated denial of objective reality,” most significantly the assertions that COVID-19 and racism are things of the past.
“A lot of the RNC’s messaging on race seemed intended not so much to win over Black voters as to reassure white people that they could vote Republican without being racist,” even as the GOP served up a “steady diet of barely disguised racial panic,” Oliver said. That brought him to Kenosha, and the Fox News response: “Let’s be clear: A 17-year-old vigilante with a rifle cannot maintain order, because a 17-year-old vigilante with a rifle trying to maintain order is himself the definition of disorder — except, of course, if you’re a regular viewer of Tucker Carlson, a show that exists to teach its viewers precisely three things: property damage is violence, homicide is order, and pillows are for sale.”
The police shooting of Blake and kid-gloves for the white vigilante offer a clear “visual illustration of the differences between being Black and white in America,” Oliver said, and “it’s somehow especially infuriating” that the events in Kenosha happened concurrently with the RNC’s simultaneous denial of racism and stoking of racial violence.
The “exhaustively depressing” reminders of racism were lightened a bit by the “genuinely extraordinary” NBA walkout, Oliver said. “History has repeatedly shown us the system does not respond until it is forced to,” and “real discomfort is the only thing that’s going to bring about real change here.” And voting won’t be nearly enough, he said, “because as much as I or the RNC would like to believe that Joe Biden will be an agent of radical change, there’s just no reason to believe that.” He ended on a fiery, NSFW note, and you can watch below. Peter Weber