It was always easier to share his videos on Facebook, rather than explain our own stance when social media simmered with anti-Muslim rage. He took the edge off the serious stuff and wouldn’t let anyone look away as the small guy got beat up. He certainly couldn’t stop it, but he wouldn’t let us ignore it either. He put the spotlight on injustice and shamed others for not being human enough to care about the obvious. Jon Stewart didn’t just become a legend because of his good comic timing. He became a hero because he spoke up for the small guy, and made sure he was so good at it, that no one could shut him down.
His coverage of stories would reflect honesty and sincerity, oftentimes, tragedies would be too real and too raw for Stewart to even joke about – which left his audience mesmerized at his ability to build emotional balance into a piece that had left most of us broken. As he changed the face of journalism, he brought integrity and truth back to the forefront and challenged mainstream media to do the same, using his role as a comedian as his cover. He was a legend on many fronts, giving the silent majority a voice when nobody else would.
When he first appeared on the scene of news reporting, his work was different. He wasn’t your standard news reporter, and his work became popularly known as “fake news” because of its satirical approach, but in fact, it was a little too real for most. In a world where media painted a portrait that was designed to support a predesigned notion, Stewart blew everything wide open. His approach to reporting was strikingly bold, and unapologetic. Jon Stewart didn’t care what you thought of him, or how far his ratings would take him. He had opened the doors to journalism masked in comedy, which gave him the license to get away with satire in the face of socio-political injustice. The world is a cruel and heartless place, and as the media thrived on creating an image of the “bad guys” Jon Stewart wasn’t afraid to call them out for their moral bankruptcy. Although he made a lot of people uneasy with his brutally honest reporting, everyone was addicted to his ways of airing out the dirty laundry. Like a bunch of suburban housewives, waiting to hear the latest neighborhood news, we all waited on the Daily Show to get our fill.
As the legend retires, he leaves behind millions of broken hearts. Out of which the minority is the majority. Anyone and everyone that was ever misrepresented or felt targeted by the media. People of race, religion, culture from all walks of life, all wondering “Who’s going to stand up for us now?” There may be a lot more shows on TV that try to do what Stewart does, but his charisma and comedic intelligence remains unmatched. Muslims across North America and around the world all love Jon Stewart for what he has done for us. He had his ways of redirecting the rage and making fun of things that made us nervous to talk about. As he candidly pointed out the obvious, he had a huge impact on the way the West viewed Muslims and Islam. He instilled a sense of confidence in us as social media bashed us for every bad move made by anyone remotely “Muslim”. No matter how obvious the hate statements were, we were always a lot more comfortable when Jon said it his way.
As Western media gripped us by the throats, Jon Stewart was perhaps the only journalist to run to our rescue. Sometimes his statements were SO supportive, I would wonder why no one has stopped him from speaking up! But I should have known, Jon Stewart is unstoppable. And now that he’s leaving, so is the hope that someone will stand up to save the Muslim name in front of a majority audience that never gets the story straight. These are tough times for the Muslim ummah living in North America, and we could use a little support when it comes to mainstream media. Jon Stewart has always been that guy. The one who gave us the confidence to stand up and laugh in the face of injustice, gratifying us with the knowledge that the world hasn’t gone insane, that the truth still means something, and that hypocrisy will be called out.
Here’s to you Jon, a tribute to all the times others picked on us, and you stood up. Thanks for all the laughs, we’ll miss you.