Stephen Colbert's 14-Minute Monologue Captures the State Of American Anger

Anna Grace Lee
·4 min read
Photo credit: Elaine Chung
Photo credit: Elaine Chung

From Esquire

Hours before Congress ratified the election results around 3:45am this morning, Stephen Colbert soberly greeted his Late Show audience, unexpectedly going live to deliver a scathing rebuke of the president and the Republicans whose support led to the terroristic MAGA mob’s seditious assault on the Capitol yesterday. Colbert typically goes live only to cover elections or other major political moments, and yesterday’s show was one such moment. In November, Colbert got emotional in his monologue, somberly reflecting on the president’s baseless claims of election fraud. On last night’s show, however, there was no room for melancholy—only rage at the people responsible for this attack on democracy.

Colbert came out swinging, speaking directly to Republican members of Congress who support Trump: “Hey, Republicans who supported this president—especially the ones in the joint session of Congress today—have you had enough? After five years of coddling this president’s fascist rhetoric, guess whose followers want to burn down the Reichstag? Because today, the U.S. Capitol was overrun for the first time since 1814 and a woman died. Who could have seen this coming? Everyone. Even dummies like me. This is the most shocking, most tragic, least surprising thing I have ever seen.”

Colbert held Trump's Republican supporters accountable for their dangerous complicity in Trump's repeated attempts to dismantle democracy, saying, "For years now, people have been telling you cowards that if you let the president lie about our democracy over and over, and then join him in that lie and say he’s right when you know for a fact that he is not, there will be a terrible price to pay. But you just never thought you’d have to pay it, too."

Colbert highlighted a photo of Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) raising his fist in support of the rioters. Hawley is one of nearly a dozen GOP senators who vowed to object to states' electoral college votes in the Congressional meeting yesterday, and continued to object even after the attack on the Capitol. “Like you, Senator Josh Hawley, raising your stupid fist to the mob outside the Capitol," Colbert said. "Look at that. It’s like Black Power, but the opposite. There really should be a name for that. And obviously he has to keep his fist closed, because if he opened it, you’d see all the blood on his hands.”

Colbert held Fox News accountable, too, for their role in giving a platform to Trump's outrageous claims and conspiracies over the last four years, saying, “You think maybe years of peddling his conspiracy theories had anything to do with this?"

In the extended monologue, Colbert compared yesterday’s events to the white supremacist terror in the summer of 2017 in Charlottesville. “Look at these thugs,” he said, showing a clip of the rioters chasing a Capitol security officer up flights of stairs. “Remind me: are we great again, yet?” He also illustrated the disturbing contrast between police response (or, total lack of response) to yesterday’s attack and the extreme show of force in the deployment of the DC National Guard at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest at the Lincoln Memorial in June 2020. Yesterday, police at the Capitol arrested an estimated 52 people. For comparison, the Washington Post estimates that police arrested about 14,000 people at anti-racism protests across the country this past summer.

Photo credit: Esquire
Photo credit: Esquire

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Colbert showed footage from Trump’s rally yesterday morning, where he incited and instructed the mob, saying, “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol.” Directly addressing the rioters, Colbert argued that Trump is not only a criminal and a fascist, but a hypocrite who lies to his own base of white supremacist supporters. “He kept saying ‘we,’ but he didn’t go with you," Colbert said. "He does not give a damn about you. He went home to watch it on TV. You’re just entertainment for him. And of course, a steady stream of merchandise sales.”

Colbert wrapped up the monologue: “And sadly, we should not be surprised by any of this. These people who stormed the Capitol today have eagerly swallowed divisive bullcrap at the president’s rallies for five years. They now live in an alternate universe that is now collapsing in on itself. It’s like a black hole of whiteness.”

Finally, Colbert looked forward to the future. “In 2022, when all of those Republicans who—make no mistake—are responsible for what happened today, and are running for reelection," he said. "Let’s remember them for who they showed themselves to be today. Cynical cowards who believe the voters should not get to choose who governs this country. Let’s hope the voters prove them all wrong.”

January 20th can’t come soon enough.

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