“Boy, what a terrible weekend,” Stephen Colbert said at the top of his Late Show monologue Monday night. His audience tittered awkwardly, but he wasn’t making a joke.
Colbert was talking about Charlottesville, Virginia, where one person died and several others were injured after a white supremacist drove his car at full speed into a crowd of counter-protesters there. Two state police officers who were patrolling the rally were also killed when their helicopter crashed.
“The rally was a clear attempt to spark violence, and it did,” Colbert said. “Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. And it is difficult to express how heartbreaking it is to see something like this happening in our country.”
“But here’s something that’s not hard to express,” he continued. “Nazis are bad. The KKK, I’m not a fan. That wasn’t hard. That was easy. I enjoyed saying it.”
Instead of using those words on Saturday, President Donald Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence—on many sides.”
“Mr. President, this is terrorism, not your order at KFC,” Colbert said as his crowd booed Trump’s use of the phrase “on many sides.”
“How can you possibly say you condemn this in the ‘strongest possible terms’ when you don’t even name the groups responsible? Or say what they did?” the host asked. Imitating Trump, Colbert said, “I strongly condemn you-know-who about you-know-what. And, you know what, aren’t we all Nazis when you think about it?”
“I have seen angrier Yelp reviews,” he added. “And they weren’t afraid to use the word ‘Nazi’ when they complained about how long their jalapeño poppers took.” The “most disturbing” part of the president’s statement on Saturday, Colbert said, is that after it was over, “reasonable people could not tell if Trump was condemning Nazis.”
“If only the president was as mad about neo-Nazis murdering people in the streets,” Colbert said, “as he’s been about Hillary Clinton, The New York Times, CNN, Joe Scarborough, Kristen Stewart, the cast of Hamilton, Diet Coke, Nordstrom’s not selling his daughter’s clothes, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the mayor of London Sadiq Khan, me, the state of New Hampshire, Gold Star families, Penn Jillette’s Las Vegas show, the movie Django Unchained, Meryl Streep and lady Ghostbusters.”