Jon “JonTron” Jafari has addressed the fallout surrounding the controversy he became embroiled in earlier this year, with him responding to criticisms of his erroneous claim that “wealthy blacks commit more crime than poor whites” and that immigrants would “enter the gene pool eventually” if they “assimilated,” saying that he “should’ve phrased it better.”
Earlier this year, JonTron appeared in a livestreamed debate with Steven “Destiny” Bonnell, in which he made a series of racially charged comments that were condemned as white nationalist talking points by fans and critics alike. Along with suggesting that black people were somehow predisposed to criminal behavior, a train of thought that caused him to insist that “wealthy blacks” were more likely to commit crime than “poor whites,” a statement with no factual basis, he also claimed +that “we’ve gotten rid of discrimination in Western countries.” You can read a summary of the debate here.
JonTron’s comments caused him to be dropped as a voice actor for Yooka-Laylee, while he also released a video in which he suggested that his comments had been “misconstrued,” while failing to address the various egregious statements he had made during the stream. Since then he has yet to address the controversy, though this week he appeared on the H3H3 Podcast and elaborated upon some of his regrets from the debate, stopping just short of taking any accountability for his claims and instead saying that he “needed more time to [prepare] for” the debate.
H3H3 Productions’ Ethan and Hila Klein sat down with the YouTuber in their latest podcast, touching upon the fallout from the debate. “I don’t really want to get into this, it’s a minefield of sorts. I’m not gonna go back and nitpick everything I said and qualify it or anything,” he said. “All I’m gonna say is that, yeah, in that moment I was going into something that I needed a lot more time to prep for. I just went in guns blazing because… you get a little arrogant sometimes, I guess. You think ‘I’m gonna take this guy to task.’ Obviously I understand why people had the reaction they did. I look back at some of that and I think ‘Why the fuck did I say that?’ No matter what, right or wrong, it was bad luck there. I’m aware of that.”
He continued: “I guess the main question on everyone’s mind is ‘Is he a racist? Is he a Nazi?’ Simple answer: no. I treat every person with the same respect they afford me. So I felt bad about the incident, in a sense, but I also just feel bad that we can’t talk about these things without witch-hunting each other.”
When asked by Ethan Klein whether or not he regretted some of his comments, JonTron replied:”Yeah, I could’ve phrased a lot of that better.”
He added: “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the current social climate is insane. The only way we’ll ever get past it is just talking about stuff. I’m a comedian, I just wanna make people laugh. I really don’t want to get back into this. I treat people with the same respect they give me, the end.”
With many of the claims made by JonTron having been roundly debunked — such as Irish people having not been discriminated against, him claiming that “large swathes” of Mexicans “want to break parts of America off back into Mexico,” and following the white genocide conspiracy theory that white people are “becoming a minority in the country their ancestors built” — some expected H3H3 Productions to hold him accountable for his comments. Klein has a history of passing judgement upon his fellow YouTubers, with him having spent months moralizing over Jake Paul, YouTube’s endlessly controversial vlogger.
However, with Ethan being friends with JonTron, the podcast host repeatedly insisted that he didn’t particularly want to address the comments that Jon had made. “I don’t want to debate you or anything, I don’t want this to be anything negative at all,” Ethan said. “So if you’re uncomfortable, you don’t have to comment at all, I know you’ve moved past it and it was a really hard time for you.”
He continued: “I disagree with the lot of the stuff you said, but if you genuinely feel a certain way, the correct way to deal with it is not to prevent [you] from saying it.”
JonTron has still yet to attempt to qualify or individually address any of the claims he made in the debate. Watch the video of the podcast below: