John Oliver: The Confederate Flag Helps Us Identify the Worst People in the World

Joh Oliver

John Oliver called it out on Last Week Tonight, saying that the Confederate flag is one of those symbols that should only be used to help us identify the worst people in the world.

Watch the clip from Sunday’s show here:

While the American flag was flying at half-staff on the South Carolina capitol building after the terrorist attack that killed nine people in a place of worship, Oliver explained, “The one thing especially appalling – the Confederate battle flag was flying at full staff in front of the state capitol. The bigger question is why is it flying at any staff at all.”

In for the truth shot, Oliver added, “The Confederate flag is one of those symbols that should really only be seen on T-shirts, belt buckles, and bumper stickers to help the rest of us identify the worst people in the world.”

If you’re not from the south or haven’t lived there for a long time, the clip of South Carolina Senator and Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham explaining that the Confederate flag is “who we are” might shock you. Graham begrudgingly admitted – in that southern drawl that says this is ugly, and we shouldn’t talk about it – that the flag has sometimes been used in a racist way.

Sometimes, y’all.

Oliver wasn’t having any of that, and he pointed out, “I believe the first time the Confederate flag was used in a racist way was the exact second they finished sewing the first one! It was around that time!”

But really, this is the point. This is what people need to realize, especially in light of the Supreme Court saying that we don’t need voter protection in the South anymore. The South glorifies that flag. If you’re not from the south, you don’t understand.

This is “who we are.” But by “we”, be clear this is not everyone. It’s just so difficult to get through to people who are clinging to whitewashed history that they are in fact glorifying the systemic murder, kidnapping, violent abuse, and sale of human beings.

With high-end residential enclaves built to resemble the old south, including a young black boy to ring the town bell and black servants to wait on genteel whites, you’d think nothing had changed. It’s the before the war part of Gone with the Wind every day if you can afford it. And there are plenty of northern whites who flock to South Carolina to retire in one of these enclaves, so no one is exempt. The whitewashing is everywhere.

Before people get so angry that they want to toss the south out of the union, let’s call this their big blind spot. It’s like Germans reminiscing about the great parties they gave while Nazis were gassing humans. They just never talk about the gassing, so it’s like it didn’t happen. Somehow they do not understand just how offensive this is to people who were on the other side or those who live in reality.

White southerners who descend from plantations have been known to be perplexed as to why people they consider family, the descendants of the black slaves who served them, don’t share their joy at the memories of the plantation.

The real problem here is that the south has whitewashed the reality of what the Confederate flag stands for and whitewashed the entire reason for the Civil War. John Oliver is right, though because at this point ignorance is no excuse.

It’s time to not only acknowledge the realities of the slave trade, but discuss it and admit the enormous damage that has been done.

It’s time for good people to see that flag as the symbol of hate and violence that it is and denounce it passionately.

39 Replies to “John Oliver: The Confederate Flag Helps Us Identify the Worst People in the World”

  1. These same defenders of the confederate flag may claim the “heritage” BS when in public, but in the privacy of their homes and when they are around only their close friends, they reveal the racism actually at the heart of it.

  2. Like a colony of termites, eating up the structure of the USA, leaving hills of termite trash.
    Oblivious to the self-detruction that the Southern Ante-Bellum romantic view is leaving on its path.

    It needs to happen that economic sanctions are placed on those creepy states like South Carolina.
    I will never buy anything made in South Carolina, nor visit & will campaignt to all my friends to do the same.

    Those symbols of division and hate

  3. The confederate flag is worthy of being used as toilet paper. By all the surviving family members of every black person who has ever been killed on account of race.

    Nothing more.

  4. The German people had the good sense, RESPECT and here’s the key word…COURAGE!! to ban the use of the Swastika and all flags and icons of those horrible years where they did the SAME THING as the 3rd Reich! But it was in the Confederate States of America so it’s just O’ Frakkin K!. The guttural tongue and spittle filled rant of der Fuhrer are replaced with the slow methodically evil southern drawl of arrogant racism. But they still say the same thing!

  5. OH BOY!! once again, lets be honest! the confederate flag is a FLAG of RAPE!! HATE! SLAVERY! TREASON!! that’s the damned TRUTH! the confederate flag doesn’t represent ANYTHING of value! the SOUTH and this culture of ignorance needs to die! This country should have banned this flag back in 1865!! because letting this POS cloth fly gave credibility to it’s racist roots! Racism is a disease of the mentally ill! and unfortunately america is overflowing to the brim with mentally ill people! But heres a thought, the koch brothers who buys politicians like WE go grocery shopping, are racist! forget that BULL$HIT libertarian label they’re trying to push! those BA$TARDS are their fathers sons! fred koch co-founded the JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY! any questions?

  6. This is the best description I’ve seen about what the confederate flag means to those who love to wave it, and it was said by a republican in South Carolina”s legislature…

    “It’s not just a symbol of hate, it’s actually a symbol of PRIDE in one’s HATE.”

  7. @Joseph, AWESOME post! Germany had enough sense enough to know that the swastika was a flag of PURE EVIL! president Lincoln should have had enough COMMON DAMN SENSE to have include in the SOUTHS terms of surrender would be to retire the confederate flag!! but again, LETS BE REAL! president Lincoln wasn’t 100% of the opinion that black people were 100% HUMAN do the research on Lincoln!! he wasn’t the FREE wheeling black people LOVING man, MOST americans think he was! look who president Lincoln married, mary todd’s FATHER was a prominent SLAVERY OWNER! ”knowledge is POWER!”

  8. On the eve of the Civil War, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens gave a speech with confederate flags abound.
    He said: “Our new government is founded… upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth…”
    Yes, Lindsey, that’s who you are.

  9. I’m tired of those who IGNORE history:

    Southern “dixi” crat conservatives formed the KKK, and they went back to being the southern REPUBLICAN conservatives after 1964 when the civil rights bill was signed by DEMOCRAT LBJ

    Founded in 1866, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) extended into almost every southern state by 1870 and became a vehicle for white southern resistance to the Republican Party’s Reconstruction-era policies aimed at establishing political and economic equality for blacks. Its members waged an underground campaign of intimidation and violence directed at white and black Republican leaders. Though Congress passed legislation designed to curb Klan terrorism, the organization saw its primary goal–the reestablishment of white supremacy–fulfilled through Democratic victories in state legislatures across the South in the 1870s.

  10. continuation from above..

    After a period of decline, white Protestant nativist groups revived the Klan in the early 20th century, burning crosses and staging rallies, parades and marches denouncing immigrants, Catholics, Jews, blacks and organized labor. The civil rights movement of the 1960s also saw a surge of Ku Klux Klan activity, including bombings of black schools and churches and violence against black and white activists in the South.

    The KKK was formed by and are CONSERVATIVES!!!

  11. Abraham Lincoln started out with the prejudices of his time, and nonetheless believed that if you thought you could own someone because you were bigger, stronger, richer, and whiter than they were, you’d pretty much established the day when someone still bigger, stronger, richer, and whiter would slap a collar on you. His views of African Americans were considerably modified by his growing familiarity with black abolitionists.

  12. If only people would actually learn history before opening their mouths (or typing), these comment sections would not look so much like they were written by third graders.

  13. There is a genuine Southern heritage: four o’clocks in your garden, the right way to make sweet tea, the authentic method for locating a school of the big sunfish called shellcrackers (you take out a flatbottomed rowboat and put your ear to the bottom, and when you hear crunching, you drop a line), or cooking them afterwards (breaded, with black pepper and honey). None of this involves that damned flag or any of the violence it invokes. That *flag* belongs in documentaries, reenactments, and museums — that’s it.

  14. LOL A- @Reynardine, aren’t you use to my colorful rants? B- president Lincoln didn’t accept the label ”abolitionist” C- president Lincoln didn’t FREE THE SLAVES, just because HE thought it was immoral and you know that, it was about economics too. So let be truthful.

  15. Well the problem there Patrick, is that all too often we have learned about history, and 9 times out of 10 Conservatives deny it.

  16. . In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.

    Article IV Sec 3 (3). Constitution of the Confederate States.

    The REAL History that gets ignored, so very often… by White Racists.

  17. @patrick-fl, before YOU decide to criticize a post as THIRD GRADE, why do YOU lead by example? Next time you decide to post something, actually have something to SAY! take your prozac and try again.

  18. Well, if anything PROVES what that flag means to certain Southerners (and other parts of the country as well) is one just has to look at the pictures of that evil terrorist killer on his web site. He poses with a BURNING American Flag! He poses squatting with his dirty boots on the American flag – on the floor of his den! Then he posses with his adorable racist Flag (ahem Heritage banner) the Confederate Battle Flag, with a gun! So it tells us what that banner means to him, and what NOT the American Flag means to him. He is the poster boy for all to see what the defenders of flying that flag means to them. Pure, separatist, hatred for Other Americans, especially blacks and every other minority in the country. Period. Lindsey Graham and others may put whatever spin they want, but that flag does NOT represent America. Those WHO revere and display that flag with pride, are sending a message. Not a good one.

  19. Fox News host Andrea Tantaros said Monday she didn’t understand why Republican presidential candidates were being “peppered” over the flying of the Confederate flag on the South Carolina state capitol grounds.

    Tantaros, co-host of the Fox News show “Outnumbered,” said the flag was flown by southern Democrats and wasn’t “a Republican flag.”

    Tantaros made her comments in light of responses GOP presidential candidates such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and Rick Santorum have given about their take on the potential removal of the flag.

    “You know what baffles the mind?” Tantaros said. “This isn’t a Republican flag. Historically this was the flag of southern Democrats, remember that, fact?”

    “I find this flag offensive,” Tantaros continued. “This flag represents the fight in slavery and it was a flag that the southern Democrats — Democrats — used to fly against Northern Republicans so I’m not sure why Republicans are getting peppered over this.”

    I wonder what history she’s talking about? The history from 50 years ago is that Dixiecrats fully turned into Republicans after LBJ passed the Voting Right’s Act in 1965, which in reality does make it in fact a Republican problem. Conservative operatives love to use these types of phony analogies to defend their vile positions. Another one they frequently use to combat their racist history is to say that Republicans ended slavery because they are the party of Lincoln. That was true before and after the civil war, but for the last fifty years, Republicans, which is dominated by the South would never have passed anyting to help slaves. Going back in history, the South in Lincoln’s time was the enemy, after all.

  20. Conservatives like to use the FORGET button. Now they want to forget that the Dem’s who are now conservatives, became conservatives simply because of the Civil Rights act. They like to forget what that flag really stands for. Like to forget all the men and women who walked, sang and marched for these rights. Like mostly to forget all the deaths caused by them, because of those marches and all the human suffering caused by their need, to keep some people in bondage.
    That flag is no better then the swastika! The German people were so ashamed of it, they banned the flying of said swastika ever again. The same should be done here to any flag flying from the civil war period in the south or any place else in our country.

  21. Faux Snooze doesn’t know SHIT.

    Abraham Lincoln, a LIBERAL Republican ended slavery in this country. Abraham Lincoln would not be allowed into today’s Republican Party. Liberals got women and African Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. Liberals created the Affordable Care Act that saved the lives and prevented the bankruptcies of millions of Americans. Conservatives opposed every single one of those programs. When you attempt to make Liberals ashamed of the Liberal label as if it were something dirty or something to run away from, real Liberals embrace their accomplishments and invite all to join the fold and wear that badge of honor.

  22. The Cornerstone Document, 1861, upon which the government the Confederate Flag represents is based states very clearly, “. . . its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”
    They can call it “heritage” all they want, but there is no way that is not racist.

  23. you forgot something Andy… It was Liberals that founded this nation to begin with. Conservatives wanted to remain allied with Britain, and fought along side them.

  24. I’m surprised that no one’s mentioned Tony Horvitz’s “Confederates in the Attic,” which starts as a humorous examination of Civil War re-enactors who are referred to as “bloaters,” but ends in a sad indictment of the lingering effects of racism in our country. He includes an interesting history of displaying the Confederate battle flag, which really didn’t begin until the Civil Rights era in the first place, so the thought of it representing “heritage, not hate” is disingenuous at best and of course predicated upon ignorance of history, which is a typically repuglican “virtue.”

  25. As someone who worked in history museums for over 20+ years I would say that the “Confederate” flag should be in a Museum that tells the story of the American Civil War. The Confederate flag needs to be shown in context with all the statements made by Confederate Politicians of the era of exactly what it stood for – slavery!

    Now I know that there are Southern apologists who will post here and deny that and claim that the Civil War was about States rights. Yep, the rights of its States’ citizens (White males) to buy, sell and trade human beings. Don’t believe me check out the Missouri Compromise. That is the true beginning of the Civil War.

  26. It’s interesting to note that the confederate flag didn’t always fly over the Capitol building in South Carolina.

    It was put atop the dome in the early 1960’s in retaliation to the Civil Rights Movement. It is CLEARLY a racist symbol. They can’t make it any clearer than that. It took them forty years to take the flag off the capitol dome and place it in FRONT of the capitol building.

    If I lived there, I’d hire one of those cranes in the middle of the night and take a bolt cutter to that damned flag. I don’t care if I’d go to jail for it or not. It’s appalling that State Senator Clementa Pinckney’s body will be carried into that Capitol building to lie in state, right past that symbol of racism, hatred, stupidity and most of all, TREASON!

    You southerners seem to worship a symbol of a war YOU started, and YOU lost. Get over it.

  27. While I won’t defend flying the stars and bars as it does represent slavery to many the fact of the matter is this. I would think a better flag to mark the worst in the world would be um how about a German flag from 1939? And to have a brit speak of this is somewhat offensive. Honestly more people have been put in fear from the sight of the Union Jack which is the British flag for you knuckle draggers. More people were enslaved for king and country under the brits than perhaps ANYONE in human history. Before people want to talk bad about others history maybe try looking at your own first.

  28. You had some great points until the end. Losers like you always make things political and end up ticking off half the people that might take your side on a topic. Not that smart buddy.

  29. By 1783, an anti-slavery movement to abolish the slave trade throughout the Empire had begun among the British public. In 1808, Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which outlawed the slave trade.
    Do you want a lifeline and try again

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