On Thursday night’s edition of the Late Show, Stephen Colbert honed in on the Charlotte protests during his opening monologue. More specifically, Colbert addressed the hypocrisy surrounding criticism of those who take to the streets. The subject has been a heated one for the past two years with increasing numbers of protests after police shoot black men. As Colbert points out, there doesn’t seem to be an end to the pattern: “The shooting of African-Americans by police officers and the community outrage that follows seems to keep happening over and over again, no matter how many times we do nothing.”
Black Lives Matter DeRay McKesson recently told us how protesters take to the streets “because there is no other option,” for they’ve already exhausted other methods of coping with systemic discrimination. This explanation goes perfectly well with Colbert’s discussion of how even a silent civil protest results in a massive outpouring of criticism. The timely example here would be how 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has taken a knee for the national anthem. Colbert mused, “I just wish there were some kind of respectful, silent civil protest that people could engage in that wouldn’t enrage the other side.” At that moment, a photo of Kaeperneck appeared on the screen.
Colbert conceded, “Yeah, no, that’s not going to work, either.” Then he mockingly called out for help from “civil-rights icon, the Rev. Dr. Donald Trump.” The Republican presidential nominee’s opinion on the events in Charlotte is what you’d expect — he’s suggested that these protests are all about “drugs” rather than the fact that police are shooting (often) unarmed black men (in these well-publicized incidents). Colbert then rips into Trump’s “stop-and-frisk” proposal and points out how “there’s a lot of racial unrest lately, and you’d have to be an idiot to think you could pinpoint a single cause for it.” Well, Colbert is talking about a presidential candidate who may have forgotten slavery even happened.