John Oliver Takes On Confederate Monuments [VIDEO]

Newsweek reports:

John Oliver gave an elaborate—and sometimes stinging—explanation as to why statues of Confederate leaders should not remain standing Sunday night. The British comedian dedicated the large majority of his HBO comedy show Last Week Tonight to a comprehensive history lesson about the divisive monuments that critics say celebrate America’s dark past.

“If the Confederacy was not about slavery, someone should go back in time and tell the fucking Confederacy that,” Oliver said. “And yet, remarkably, people think the Civil War was about something else.”

Oliver showed Pew Research Center data from 2011 that found that nearly half of Americans—48 percent, in fact—thought the Civil War was about “states’ rights.” Only 38 percent of Americans thought it was about slavery.

  • Tawreos

    Willful ignorance will be the end of America, and we will have the men and women that run our government to thank for it.

    • barrixines

      Can I just extend that. The willful ignorance of Americans will be the end of the world. Just trying to light a firework under your arses over there to sort out your education system because you’re going to kill all of us if you don’t.

      • Tawreos

        We can dream, but so many of those in power know that if they had to face an enlightened and educated electorate they would never be re-elected. The prefer tricks and lies to stay in power.

      • Gay Fordham Prep Grad

        OMG, yes! I came of age during the first years after Sputnik, and everything was about science and math. If anyone suggested public school science classes should be supplanted by “Creation Theory,” he’d be strung up as a Soviet agitator. It’s like the Dark Ages are making a comeback.

        • Nowhereman

          That to me is the scariest part, and it’s not getting enough attention. DeVos and Sessions are busy destroying everything that makes it worthwhile to be an American.

      • David Walker

        But to post an absolutely revered (by me) satirist:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frAEmhqdLFs

        • Nowhereman

          He was pretty ahead of his time. I like “National Brotherhood Week” too.

    • bambinoitaliano

      It is ending America and the world. It has created the entitled Nazi cultures of the white race the way it did in Germany in the 1930’s.

      • Nowhereman

        Having grown up in the duck-and-cover days, I am appalled at what I’m seeing.

    • Nowhereman

      Betsy DeVos is doing her damnedest to destroy public education in this country. I hope she gets smacked down soon. I hear she’s on the verge of destroying the teaching unions. Her stated goal is to bring public school children to Jesus…Uh, no.

  • PickyPecker
    • Todd20036

      Racist pigeons are screwed.

      • another_steve

        Let them shit on Donald Trump’s head.

        • pj

          there will never be a statue of donald trump anywhere

          • ColdCountry

            There already is! What about those naked Trump statues? Pigeon shit would go well on those.

          • Nowhereman

            I do hope some of those were saved for the Smithsonian and the Trump presidential library…I wonder if presidents who are impeached still get a library? Oh well, we’ll always have his tweets…

          • ColdCountry

            What would the Dump library have in it? Comic books? A copy of Hitler’s speeches?

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    • Nowhereman

      At least pigeons would move on and find somewhere else to perch.

    • Gerry Fisher

      “What do we want?”
      “Pigeon’s rights!”
      “When do we want ’em?”
      “NOW!!!”

  • j.martindale

    Differences without a distinction. In point of fact, the Civil War was fought because the South separated from the Union. But the reason the South separated from the Union was because they feared slavery would be eliminated by Lincoln and the Republicans.

  • gaycuckhubby

    I think Trump has pushed us into a post-gay society. The last 9 or 10 posts om the largest gay blog have been about straight people.

    I’m only being slightly sarcastic.
    Also not complaining 🙂

  • crewman

    The right-wing likes to wrap their arguments in shields that cannot be attacked: the flag, the Bible, the sanctified honor of Confederate heritage.

    A strong sociological explanation of morality is that it is constructed from 5 foundations (see Wikipedia explanation): care, fairness/proportionality, loyalty/ingroup, authority/respect, sanctity/purity.

    The shields of religion, patriotism and the call to defend heritage are constructed to elicit a moral response, which you can clearly see in the visceral, angry, self-righteous reactions of right-wing people.

    If you can convince a man he is morally superior, he feels justified in doing horrific things in the name of that morality, and he will feel like a proud champion and defender of his group.

    • greenmanTN
      • Reality.Bites

        This Voltaire guy has some really interesting ideas it seems. Do you have a link to his Twitter? 😉

        • Paula

          I hear he is doing some really great things. Tremendous!

          • Reality.Bites

            Do you think he’s available for a cabinet position?

        • Adam King

          He hardly ever posts anymore.

          • Hue-Man

            He’s jealous of Frederick Douglass.

        • Nowhereman

          It might be fun to make up a few fake twitter accounts in the names of the great philosophers and the Founding Fathers and have them go after Trump on Twitter. I doubt he would even recognize their names.

  • Acronym Jim

    Having a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville is like having a statue of Benedict Arnold in Lexington.

  • BeaverTales

    History belongs to the victors, you Nazi KKK bitches…and it sure the fuck wasn’t you!

    You don’t see Canadians marching around statues to Benedict Arnold, Lord Cornwallis and King George while claiming it was only a war about tea and taxes. History is what it is.

  • Zachary Adams

    It was partly about states’ rights, just not in the way they think. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 sought to compel states, even states that did not support slavery, to return escaped slaves to their state of origin. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugitive_Slave_Act_of_1850. This was clearly federal overreach on states right: “The Fugitive Slave Law brought the issue home to anti-slavery citizens
    in the North, as it made them and their institutions responsible for
    enforcing slavery. “Where before many in the North had little or no
    opinions or feelings on slavery, this law seemed to demand their direct
    assent to the practice of human bondage, and it galvanized Northern
    sentiments against slavery.”

    • Acronym Jim

      In other words, in the South it WAS about slavery, but in the North it was about state’s rights NOT to participate in slavery.

      Excellent point.

    • Stev84

      It was about the “right” to keep slaves

    • Bj Lincoln

      It didn’t start out about slavery but changed midway and made about it in the end.

      • David Ehrenstein

        “Midway” it “changed”? Was that when Uncle Remus was thrown off the plantation for telling critter stories to children?

  • another_steve

    Non-bigoted people believe that monuments to bigotry don’t belong in the public square. End of story.

    Historians and the survivors of the Holocaust reached what I believe was the right balance. They didn’t destroy the physical artifacts of the Holocaust. Instead, they put them on display in a national museum – the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum located in Washington D.C.

    There are exhibits in the museum memorializing, documenting, the persecution and slaughter of gay people by the Nazis. If anyone reading here hasn’t yet visited the museum, if they’re able to, they should. An experience you’ll never forget.

    As human beings, we are called upon to be witnesses to horror and inhumanity. Jewish people, the descendants of slaves, LGBT people, all persecuted people.

    As human beings, we are all called upon to witness.

    • greenmanTN

      They did destroy the monuments of the Third Reich though, and rightly so. What they didn’t destroy was the evidence of their crimes.

      https://i.makeagif.com/media/5-08-2015/6t3Y8b.gif

      • another_steve

        I’m assuming, greenman, that historians look at that video and weep.

        • Reality.Bites

          Some historians don’t get quite the boner over hate speech that you do.

          • Todd20036

            I don’t think A. Steve likes hate speech. He does have a thing for Kushner, tho

          • Reality.Bites

            There is no appalling example of hate speech he doesn’t think should be legal.

            He is one of those fucking assholes who STILL thinks the US got it right on “freedom of speech” and the democracies of the world got it wrong.

            The answer to Nazism is NOT sanctimonious twits like Steve tut-tutting and saying how hot they are in a gay Steppin’ Fetchit act.

          • UrsusArctos

            I’m for near absolute free speech, but NOT freedom from consequence for that speech. Yeah, say or do inflammatory shit, but don’t expect me to stop you from losing your job or people treating you like crap. It is (kind of still) a free country. With the Nazis, the Germans struck a delicate balance. Hell, they did a better job looking at and teaching the next generations about why being a Nazi is a bad idea. Here we seem to have failed that test. *sigh*

        • greenmanTN

          If they do, they shouldn’t. The Third Reich lasted for what, 20 years? It’s hardly like destroying treasures of an ancient civilization, and they produced a shit-ton of that crap: idealized sculptures of Hitler and his cohorts, soulless idealized Aryans, and swastikas out the yin yang. Destroy most, just keep enough to prove the point that it existed.

          Don’t forget that the Nazis paved roads with the tombstones from Jewish cemeteries. But THEIR monuments deserve to be retained? Hardly.

          • another_steve

            We shouldn’t destroy artifacts of historical significance. Doesn’t matter if they’re 80 years old or 800 years old.

            Don’t display them in the public square, but don’t destroy them.

          • greenmanTN

            I disagree, at least in cases where the “artifacts” are recent. When that swastika was destroyed it was probably closer to 8 years old than 80. And look at what has happened to the Confederate statues. They aren’t viewed as historical artifacts but as fetish objects for racist revisionists who wish to recreate and relive the past, not revile it.

        • Taylor Bixler

          But nobody has forgotten that that giant marble swastika once overlooked the Zeppelintribüne, above Hitler’s pulpit at nazi rally grounds in Nuremberg. That history was not erased. In fact, it is very much alive in video evidence. It simply is not in place on a pedestal in the public square.

    • Snarkaholic

      I’ve visited…it’s heart-wrenching.

    • Reality.Bites

      And none of these are civil war artifacts, so what was (correctly) done with artifacts of the Holocaust doesn’t apply at all. Gone with the Wind is closer to being an authentic civil war artifact, as it was made decades before these statues!

      • UrsusArctos

        Bingo. But your timeline is off. These statues aren’t about the Civil War, they’re about White Supremacy and the rise of segregation. The statues went up as segregation/disenfranchisement (Jim Crow) laws were enacted post- Reconstruction (1880s -1920s) GWTW celebrated the “Lost Cause” myth. I think of GWTW as a participation trophy for the losers and their kids/grandkids.

        • Reality.Bites

          I read that a lot of them were in the 1960s as well.

          • UrsusArctos

            The ones in the Deep South were mostly Jim Crow era. The ones in the border states and further north tended to be later. Similar to how desegregation fights about schools started in Dixie and took a while to get to Boston and northern cities.

        • Adam King

          Gone with the Wind featured (brilliantly acted) happy, loyal slaves and left out the tortured, raped ones, and the destroyed families. It’s a racist lie.

          • UrsusArctos

            Which was what the whole “Lost Cause” myth GWTW was part of. the “Lost Cause” used racism to turn two groups of poor people against each other so their betters could pick the pockets of the ignorant white trash while keeping them too poor to do anything but have fear and envy of others.

  • Michael R


    Ex-girlfriend leaks video of Dolphins coach snorting
    cocaine after owner backs Trump’s anthem tantrum

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTCcf2_5yIw

    • Reality.Bites

      I don’t understand what him snorting coke has to do with the owner backing Trump. (I’d understand it if the coach was backing Trump)

      • gaycuckhubby

        I think its meant to show the hypocrisy of NFL owners overlooking some behaviors while punishing those who are exercising their First Amendment right and acting patriotic

        • Reality.Bites

          That is certainly a fair comment for her to make, but I don’t think the video does that, unless we know the owner was aware of his cocaine use.

          Of course now that it IS out, the owner’s reaction (or lack thereof) is certainly going to be a good test of his supposed values.

          • gaycuckhubby

            I agree. I usually get uneasy about public shaming like this.
            Lots of people do cocaine recreationally. Not sure they should all be fired and exposed

          • Reality.Bites

            True as well. If the owner’s reaction ends up as, “I couldn’t give a flying football about people’s drug use” I couldn’t fault him.

      • Nowhereman

        It’s the hypocrisy. It’s a common trait on the right. In fact, it’s what unites them. That and the total lack of empathy and irony.

    • CharlestonDave

      The coach has resigned.

      • Xiao Ai: The Social Gadfly

        There’s just no pride in substance abuse these days, is there?

  • Todd20036

    The statues went up primarily after major civil rights laws were enacted.

    The statues weren’t meant to commemorate history, they were meant as a big middle finger to minorities (usually blacks) when they got equal protection.

    Which is why the Tiki Nazis are all about protecting statues, but hardly about reading up on history

    • Uncle Mark

      I doubt that 95% of these Tiki Nazis and Proud Confederates can tell you any real details about the generals these statues are allegedly intended to honor. Perhaps there should be more libraries erected instead. How about we put more honest placards in front of these statues…describing what horrors these assholes represent and fought for.

      • Todd20036

        You’re assuming these assholes can read

        • Taylor Bixler

          Spencer is an asshole and deserving of his rep as a human punching bag, but he is no dummy.

      • Nowhereman

        It’s for damn sure that they don’t know that RE Lee told his followers to fold up their flag and put it away.

    • UrsusArctos

      Almost. A few went up in the modern civil rights era. The civil rights fights are actually somewhat of a response 50 years after these symbols of oppression were erected to celebrate white supremacy. The bulk of them went up post Reconstruction (1880s-1920s) and the “Jim Crow” segregation/disenfranchisement laws went into effect. SO, they were erected at an even nastier point in US history than the Civil Rights era.

      • DaveMiller135

        And those are both great things to put on the signs beside the statues in whatever museum they end up in.

        • Nowhereman

          I agree. And insult to injury, let’s not let the racists and neoconfederats take control of them. They don’t need to be glorified, they need to be explained and condemned.

    • JWC

      Some 90 years after and all erected in the Jin Crow era but NO, nothing to do with slavery, in the least Oh to even think that

  • Taylor Bixler

    The states’ rights argument and the “lost cause” theory is a direct result of how places like Texas and elsewhere in the south teach US “history”. In Virginia, my nieces and nephews were taught that interlopers from the North had put forward the “misconception” that slavery was the cause of the war. And this was in the decade or so ago. Decades of calling it the “War of Northern Aggression” and teaching that states’ rights were dominated by the Yankee army tormenting the “good people of the South” has influenced millions of kids turned adults.

    • Bj Lincoln

      Yes! That is what the wife grew up on. I am from northern Ohio where I was taught it was slavery, Lincoln was a hero and the South needs to get over their loss. That and those people were backwards thinking about most things. Funny thing to think for republicans.

  • Tomcat

    Just proves 48% are in denial of their forefathers actions.
    And if these same people were to get state rights complete they would start allowing slavery again.

  • FAEN

    That was spectacular-Oliver really nailed it.

    • Adam King

      Really well done. And I loved the surprise at the end.

  • TrueWords
    • Ha ha. My wife, who is Southern, once called those monuments “the South’s participation trophies.”

      • Bj Lincoln

        That is funny. My wife I from NC. We have had some revealing conversations on this subject.

  • TrueWords
  • GayOldLady

    It was only about States rights as it impacted the livelihood of the South which was built on slave labor. The economy of the South was driven by slave labor and share croppers. In other words slaves and impoverished whites. The South and much of this country was built by slaves and indentured servants. People trying to rewrite history do so because the truth doesn’t fit their narrative.

    • Bj Lincoln

      Part of the South’s livelihood was the movement west. They wanted to take slave labor west but the North was becoming over populated and folks wanted to go west to paying jobs. The workers were tired of being threatened to be replaced with slaves. Industry was taking over but what’s the point fighting for workers rights if you could be replaced by a slave?
      I am not condoning slavery in anyway but it did ease my mind to know some stats about the subject. The average farmer was lucky to own a slave. To them, a slave was a farm tool like a tractor. Most treated them well and some treated as equals. The middle class had servants in the house. Only a small percentage of large farms/plantations had 50 or more slaves. Growing up it seemed as if the whole South was full of plantations.

      • GayOldLady

        The South wasn’t full of plantations, but in the area I live in there are many plantations still standing and some are still working as farms. I have a friend whose parents live in a Plantation home. It was built by his family and has stayed in his family and the slave quarters still stand. There’s also a black family who’s lived on their plantation for generations. And it’s true that most people in the South didn’t own slaves, but it’s also true that most people in the South considered slaves as chattel. In the town I live in now the town square was a place where slaves were sold at auction alongside livestock. There are still vestiges of slavery everywhere you look in the South. And it’s true, not all white slave owners treated their slaves badly (as in beatings), but they were still slaves, with no free will to live or work as they wished or where they wished, no wages, no right to take a day off or to decided they wanted to do something other than what their “owner” wanted, no right to education, no right to property ownership, no right to a voice in their government, no autonomy over their own bodies, no right to keep their children, no right to stay with their mate, no right to live their life in any way that their owner objected to. So, when you really think about it, there was no such thing as a well treated slave.

      • Gregory Peterson

        I grew up in excessively rural Nebraska. We, like most people, didn’t own a tractor, but the wealth of the area depended upon them.

        For instance, my grandfather was a mechanic who fixed them.

        Even if slave owners were a minority, the wealth of the area was built upon the backs of slaves.Enslaved people could be rented, or lent out to friends and relatives.

        Along the lines of a kind neighbor who would plow our large garden plot with his farm tractor for us.

        Enslaved people could be used as collateral in business dealings which could grow local ‘white’ economies. .

        ‘White’ people were, on a percentage basis, unlikely to live on plantations, but Black people were likely to live on plantations.

        Even if you didn’t own enslaved people, owning enslaved people was a display of status, that you had made it, and something of which to aspire.

        If you examine ‘white’ households which had enslaved people, as opposed to individuals who own enslave people, the percentage of ‘white’ Southern households owning enslaved people is likely to be higher than you might imagine. https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/08/small-truth-papering-over-a-big-lie/61136/

  • Uncle Mark

    The moment the Republicans adopted the Southern Strategy, they have had to endure this neurosis of appealing to these backward racists, while trying to appear as being moral, decent & idealistic. They claim a love of history, while for decades they’ve tried to rewrite history…saying that the Civil War was about “states rights” and NOT about slavery. In the meantime, they speak in dog whistles to their racist base…using words like “thugs and urban” as euphemisms for Black.

    In the same vein, these fights over Confederate statues & flags has nothing to with any love of history, as it is so much over racial dominance over minorities. As we have all witnessed, so many racists loathe being called racist, so they try to make the argument about something else.

    Let’s face it, if these racist fuckers REALLY cared about history, there would be realistic placards (warts & all) about the generals being portrayed. These people would be able to quote Shelby Foote or Bruce Catton about the lives of these generals.

  • Growing up in Indiana in the 70’s we were taught the civil war was about ‘slavery’ – but slavery was never delved into, never examined, and was only mentioned in the most vague and disembodied ways. At university in the 80’s it was much the same – little discussion of actual slavery. Though I do recall a political history class where we examined the 3/5th compromise from a statistical representation standpoint.

    Slavery/White Supremacy are baked into the founding of America. They can’t be ignored, or glossed over, They can’t be hidden behind inaquous phrases like ‘States Rights’ or the ‘Lost Cause’. Until we actually acknowledge and confront this history and learn to accept it as the great failing of our country and its people, we will never mature enough to move forward. At 342 years old, it’s time our country ‘adulted’ and admitted it’s failings and the inhumanity enshrined in it’s birth.

  • fkevin
  • Lars Littlefield

    John Oliver is definitely a bright spot in the wasteland that is TV.

  • Itsatarp

    Here’s the deal on this “state rights” business. It wasn’t that the south felt their state rights were being ignored, they were upset the north was exerting theirs. They were angry the northern states had granted citizenship to escaped slaves in their territory and would not help track down and return them to the south.

  • Nowhereman

    Well yeah, it WAS about states’ rights–the right to own black people as chattel slaves. And it WAS about economics–the confederacy STILL hasn’t figured out how to make their economies work without slavery…

  • David Ehrenstein

    Absolutely Perfect!

  • thrunch

    OT but ..

    #DoveAd #Dove #DoveSoap SO WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK IS NORMAL SKIN? MY DARK SKINNED ASS WOULD LOVE TO KNOW? pic.twitter.com/7dlNp9Qpzj— Carol Lynne Watson (@hippeacechick) October 9, 2017

  • wds
    • Gregory Peterson

      Unsaid is that those dreadful Democrats were likely to be in the Southern Baptist Convention, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, the Southern Presbyterian Church in the United States…