Though his international stardom began in the late 2000s, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies’ star practically exploded with his 2014 Netflix special Bare. The stand-up hour featured a strikingly honest (but funny) bit about the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary massacre and gun control in America that, in a short amount of time, quickly went viral. For better or worse, Jefferies became the comedic face of anti-gun advocates — something the comic didn’t mind at all when he spoke with Uproxx in 2016 — and he has transformed the attention into a Comedy Central talk show that focuses entirely on “hot button” issues.
That includes the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where anti-racist protester Heather Heyer was killed, and dozens more were injured when a car driven by a white supremacist allegedly ran them over in broad daylight. Politicians, celebrities and Jefferies’ fellow late night talk show hosts condemned the violence immediately. Yet much of their scorn later turned to President Donald Trump, who finally called out the perpetrators on the right before backtracking during an insane press conference on Tuesday. Jefferies reserved plenty of that (and more) for the president of his adopted homeland, but that didn’t prevent him from pointing out a rather ugly truth about the so-called “rise” of white supremacy and anti-racists’ clarion call, “This is not us!”
“Powerful words,” he said of Lady Gaga‘s #ThisIsNotUS hashtag, “but unfortunately this is us. It’s a part of this country and we can’t pretend it’s not.” Judging by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of white nationalist groups in the United States, a longtime tally the non-profit group has kept and updated for decades, Jefferies isn’t wrong. However, his comments on Gaga and others’ response to Charlottesville wasn’t meant as condemnation. Rather, it was meant to stir them and others to action — courtesy of a rather poignant analogy involving testicular cancer:
“If a doctor finds a cancer in my left testicle, I don’t say, ‘I don’t have cancer! My left testicle has cancer. That’s not me.’ But it is me! I may not like that part of me, but it’s me. I don’t blame my right testicle and claim there’s testicle problems on both sides. No, instead we cut that cancer out as quickly and as aggressively as possible, and hope it doesn’t come back.”
The forced removal of Confederate-era statues from monuments across the southern and northeastern United States may be a first major step in putting Jefferies’ analogy into practice, but it won’t be enough. Judging by what Vice News recently documented in a short film about the white supremacy rally and resulting violence in Charlottesville, the reality of racism and white nationalism in America goes much deeper than civil war relics and hashtags.