John Oliver opened his HBO late-night show on Sunday with a call for America to not allow itself to embrace numbness as a coping mechanism in the wake of the weekend’s mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, and to call out President Trump for creating “an environment” where ideas like white nationalism and anti-immigrant hysteria “can fester and indeed thrive.”
“As I’m sure you are aware, America has just seen two mass shootings within 24 hours, in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas,” Oliver said at the opening of “Last Week Tonight.”
“And while it’s still very early, it does feel like there are a couple of points that seem worth mentioning here. First, when it comes to gun control, I know it can feel like everything’s been said before. In fact, even pointing out that everything’s been said before, has been said before. In fact, even pointing out the fact that ‘everything’s been said before, has been said before,’ has been said before.
“But while the depressingly familiar numbness that you may be currently feeling can help you handle the pain in the short term, in the long term it can actually be a real problem, because unless something hurts as much as it’s supposed to, nothing gets done about it,” Oliver said. “And something has got to be done here, and not just about guns.”
He continued: “The El Paso shooting is currently being investigated as a hate crime and the shooter’s manifesto featured anti-immigrant language that might be familiar to you from certain cable networks and certain presidents. And clearly white nationalism and anti-immigrant hysteria did not not start with this president, but he certainly seems to have created an environment where those ideas can fester and indeed thrive.”
Oliver then rolled a clip of Trump asking a rally in Florida, “How do you stop these people?” referring to immigrants, “You can’t!” — before someone in the crowd yelled, “Shoot them!”
Trump laughed and said in response, “That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that stuff.”
“Here’s the thing about that: It is not only in the Panhandle where you can get away with that statement,” Oliver said. “You can now get away with this all over the country — and, as he just made painfully clear, in any room the actual president is in, which is absolutely appalling. And that is something we cannot afford to get numb to. Because if that ever, for even a moment, feels like it’s become normal, we are completely f–ked.”