Earlier this month, YouTube gaming comedian Jon "JonTron" Jafari found himself in hot water after making deeply insensitive remarks. Now, JonTron is saying that he was misunderstood.
Confused? It's okay. Before we get to his response statements, let's first back up.
The controversy all began after JonTron defended Congressman Steve King's white nationalism-aligned argument that Americans "can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies. "JonTron was quick to defend King on Twitter, saying that King "doesn't want his country invaded by people who have contempt for his culture and people."
Of course, that's not entirely true, and it led to backlash from many Twitter users.
Amidst the controversy starting on Twitter, JonTron joined up with Steven "Destiny" Bonnell on stream to defend his opinions, with Destiny debating JonTron's perspective. The stream was a disaster for Jafari.
Gizmodo captured some of the worst parts, including Jafari claiming that Mexican immigrants are trying to "break parts of America off back into Mexico," that Americans "don't need immigrants from incompatible places," that discrimination was "gotten rid of... in our Western countries," and, perhaps worst of all, that immigrants would be welcome "if they assimilated" because "they would enter the gene pool eventually."
Of course, that sort of reasoning sounds like eugenics, which... does not sit well with any group of people these days. Except maybe Nazis.
Suffice to say, long-term fans quickly became upset, with may users on /r/JonTron vowing to stop supporting Jafari. Which led to this week, in which JonTron issued a statement on his YouTube channel about the entire controversy.
Looking At Jon's Response
JonTron's response, which you can catch right here, clarifies some of his statements.
"Things are being extracted from this that I know I don't think," he said. "I was in there under a lot of pressure that I'm not used to being under, and as it became clear, I suck at debate."
"Discrimination certainly exists but I do believe it goes all ways," Jafari said, suggesting that white people can be discriminated against by people of color. However, Jafari did stress that America has a long and upsetting history with discrimination, and that discrimination isn't over by any means.
"We as a country have had a terrible history of dealing with race," he said. "I mean, of course, from slavery to Jim Crow to even the Irish."
It's important that JonTron clarified his remarks and stepped back from his more extreme comments -- like his insensitive claim that discrimination no longer exists in America.
But here's the problem. JonTron hasn't apologized for anything he has said. He hasn't laid out that he was wrong, just that he was misconstrued, or that he misspoke, or that the media has targeted him. It's clear that even JonTron himself feels some of his comments crossed a line, yet there's no desire to make up for them with a heartfelt apology. Just an explanation.
This is a major problem. It's not enough for Jafari to simply explain himself. The opinions and views he expressed on stream -- and his behavior on Twitter, which goes as far as defending colonialism as a "net benefit" -- are so disturbing that even Time has picked up on the story. And people are abandoning JonTron and Normal Boots.
This isn't just a case of YouTube drama. On some level, Jafari made a mistake that he needs to own up to with a serious apology.
So no, it's not enough. JonTron doesn't have to become an activist, but he should at least promise to learn more about the way other Americans live. Or, at the very least, he should keep his politics to himself. Because life is rough for many marginalized Americans, and it's clear Jafari simply doesn't know what it's like to live with that burden.
Did JonTron's response statement excuse his comments? Share your opinion in the comments below.