The arguments made in defense of keeping Confederate monuments often range from the ill-informed to just blatantly racist — but lucky for us, John Oliver is here to shred each and every one of them. During the Oct. 8 episode of Last Week Tonight, the HBO host went in on America's struggle to grapple with its own history of slavery in a clip that is equal parts hilarious and eye-opening.
Oliver began by drawing comparisons with the legacy of Jimmy Savile, a once-cherished British TV host who was revealed to be a longtime sex offender after his death. Once Saville's extensive history as an abuser came to light, the statues and signs that had been made in his honor were quickly taken down in order to avoid honoring a monstrous figure in English history. But in America, Oliver noted, the road to undoing the celebration of problematic figures has proven to be far more complex.
Oliver hilariously referred to the Confederate statues as America's own "tracksuit sex offender," a recurring problem that we have yet to sufficiently address before continuing on to broach the debate about the roughly 1,500 Confederate symbols still found throughout the country. He then rolled various clips of cringe-worthy lines from those who want the statues to remain, with almost every single one highlighting the same confusing concern that removing these symbols would somehow erase American history.
The episode went on to dispel the myth that the remaining Confederate statues merely represent a harmless preservation of history (or anything other than a tribute to America's racist past), and Oliver didn't mince words: "The Confederacy was fighting for the preservation of slavery. And that's not my opinion — that is just a fact." He bolstered his point by referencing several Confederate state's declarations of secession that included specific language about slavery and their view that white people were the "superior race."
Of course, Oliver came ready with a five-star plan to replace all of these monuments with far better options, though one stood out as particularly appealing to us: Stephen Colbert. Dropping by as a surprise guest, Colbert volunteered as a stand-in for Confederate monuments in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Oliver vouched for Colbert's qualifications, saying, "He'll actually stand there all day and tell you fun facts about your wonderful town." Sounds like a great plan to us.
Watch the full clip from the Last Week Tonight episode above.