“Remember when we were all afraid of our groceries?” he asked. “I miss those days.”
Colbert diagnosed the crisis now dominating the news over COVID-19 as “America’s pre-existing condition: racism.”
The nationwide protests and civic unrest were sparked by a white police officer in Minneapolis killing George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis.
“In times like these, we need empathetic and moral leadership,” Colbert said. “Unfortunately, we have Donald Trump.”
Presidents usually step up to address the nation’s pain, Colbert said, pointing out that even President Richard M. Nixon once made a surprise trip to speak with student protesters at the Lincoln Memorial. Instead, Trump was caught on audio telling governors they have to “dominate” the protesters.
Trump himself didn’t dominate them. He was whisked to an underground bunker by the Secret Service over the weekend as demonstrations broke out near the White House.
“If history has taught us anything, it’s that things always work out well for strongmen who retreat to underground bunkers,” Colbert said.
The “Late Show” host was alluding to the long line of strongmen and dictators from Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and others who had or hid in bunkers as their regimes collapsed around them.
Colbert said Trump missed his moment by hiding.
“You’re always calling to beat up protesters at your rallies,” he said. “You could shut this whole thing down, just pop a couple of hydroxys and come out of the White House swinging a five-iron with a Confederate flag taped to it.”
Colbert later dropped the quips and urged Americans to do the right thing in spite of the president. He called for addressing systemic racism and ensuring human rights and dignity for all.
See more of his monologue below:
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.