“Even though The Tonight Show isn’t a political show, it is my responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being.”
That’s how Jimmy Fallon began his late-night monologue Monday night, addressing the horrifying, hateful events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia—which saw hundreds of neo-Nazis take to the streets to publicly flaunt their racist beliefs. One of these white supremacists allegedly took it upon himself to commit an ISIS-style terrorist attack, plowing his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 others. Two police officers responding to the scene also lost their lives when their helicopter crashed.
And Fallon, who has understandably taken quite a bit of flak for ruffling Trump’s hair on The Tonight Show last September, thereby normalizing candidate Trump, has for the past several months been on the long path to redemption, calling out Trump for his glaring hypocrisies and, on this night, delivering the most poignant late-night speech on Charlottesville.
“What happened over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, was just disgusting. I was watching the news like everyone else, and you’re seeing Nazi flags and torches and white supremacists, and I was sick to my stomach,” Fallon continued, tears welling in his eyes. “My daughters are in the next room playing and I’m thinking, ‘How can I explain to them that there’s so much hatred in this world?’ They’re 2 years old and 4 years old. They don’t know what hate is. They go to the playground and they have friends of all races and backgrounds, and they just play, and they laugh, and they have fun.”
“But as kids grow up, they need people to look up to—to show them what’s right, and good. They need parents and teachers, and they need leaders who appeal to the best in us. The fact that it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racists and white supremacists is shameful. And I think he finally spoke out because people everywhere stood up and said something. It’s important for everyone—especially white people—in this country to speak out against this. Ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it.”
“And remember: There are people who have given their lives to make sure this kind of hate doesn’t spread. They’ve fought and died on the right side of history. One brave woman in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer, died standing up for what’s right at the age of 32. I can’t look at my beautiful, growing, curious daughters and say nothing when this kind of thing is happening. We all need to stand against what is wrong, acknowledge that racism exists, and stand up for all that is right, and civil, and kind. And to show the next generation that we haven’t forgot how hard people have fought for human rights. We cannot do this. We can’t go back. We can’t go back.”