Goodnight, Sweet Prince

“Bullshit is everywhere,” Jon Stewart lamented last night, on his final episode of The Daily Show.

He’s right. Bullshit is everywhere. From the slopes of Bullshit Mountain to Capitol Hill. And even in our own backyard.

Stewart went on to describe the three different types of bullshit, each increasingly difficult to detect:

  1. Making bad things sound like good things.
  2. Hiding the bad things under mountains of bullshit. Complexity.
  3. The bullshit of infinite possibility. We can’t do anything because we don’t yet know everything.

Each of these flavors of bullshit can be found proudly on display at Amherst College. Fraternities are being revived under the guise of social clubs. Vital information on sexual assault at Amherst is hidden at poorly (or simply not) advertised presentations, or confined to specialized listserves. And the mascot debate is stalled because we have to settle on something everyone likes, instead of just something that didn’t perpetrate genocide.

These are all issues that, five years ago, I might not have cared about. But it was Jon Stewart who showed me, and so many others, that being politically active was a worthwhile endeavor. That standing up to the bullshit, no matter the chances of success, was the most important thing I could do. He led by example, wading through the bullshit four nights a week, for 16 years, just to make a tiny difference.

But he did more than that. He gave progressives something we’re not accustomed to: hope. He gave us hope that others saw the world the way we do, that our ideals could be disseminated on national television, that we just might have a chance.

Whether ridiculing the Iraq War, Congressional gridlock, or America’s backwards culture, Stewart always found a way to simplify complex concepts enough for anyone to understand, yet also instill an urge to go out there, learn more, and do something about it.

It’s in his honor that we have to keep fighting bullshit, whether here at Amherst or across the globe. We may never be as accomplished as he was, but if every Daily Show viewer put in a little effort, we could change the world just like he did.

So thank you, Jon Stewart. Thank you for giving us hope and an eagerness to make the world a little less crappy. And thanks to you, there’s a little less bullshit than before.