5 Painfully True John Oliver Quotes That Would Make Your History Teacher Squirm
John Oliver has a talent for making people uncomfortable. His late night HBO show Last Week Tonight calls out so much hypocrisy and social injustice that it's hard not to feel a little guilty about the systems and traditions that have been perpetuated in society. In every episode, without fail, John Oliver drops crazy quotes that really hit home the point of his long-form stories. And even if they make you squirm a little bit, it's reassuring to hear someone telling the hard truth that no one else will say (especially with that accent).
Watching Oliver's show feels like going back to school — you have to learn history and social studies all over again. Systems and practices that are decades old or receive almost zero coverage in schools get blasted so hard, it's difficult to understand why no one ever talks about them. But now our British white knight John Oliver is on the air, to not-so-subtly remind the country to get its shit together. Thankfully, Last Week Tonight is renewed through at least 2017, and America's public policies and social phenomena will continue to be thoroughly roasted on Sunday nights. Take a look at the top five quotes from John Oliver about the messed up history of America.
1) Columbus Day
The brilliant feature "How Is This Still A Thing" took aim at Columbus Day this year with an attack on the version of history kids learn about the Spanish explorer who "discovered" America.
"In school, American children learn about Christopher Columbus's life. Of course, what they tend not to learn are the parts of Columbus's life where he kidnapped Native Americans and sold them into slavery; had his men slice them into pieces; and, through disease and warfare, killed roughly half the population of Haiti."
2) State Legislatures
Oliver awesomely highlighted the balance of power in favor of state legislatures, taking a look at how confusing they can be, especially in states like New Hampshire.
Sparta fended off Persia with only 300 people, and for some reason, New Hampshire needs 424 to issue a fucking leafy stamp.
3) The IRS
I bet when you learned about the civil services of the government and how taxes are levied, your history teach didn't tell you to think of the Internal Revenue Service like this.
Think of our government as a body. The IRS is the anus. It's nobody's favorite part, but you need that thing working properly or everything goes to shit real quick.
4) Wealth Gap
Wealth disparity is a huge social issue right now, and it's not the first time that the country has had to deal with the problem, as Oliver points out in this clip. Yet somehow, it gets left out of most history lessons.
America now has a system where wealth is essentially dispersed as a lottery of birth and maybe the reason we seem to accept that is even though the odds are stacked against us, we all think we're going to win the lottery.
5) U.S. Territories
Voting disenfranchisement for American territories has a long, frustrating history, but it's not a topic most people know much, if anything, about. Something should probably be done about both of those problems.
[American Samoans] don't even get automatic citizenship, meaning the American part of American Samoa is really just a title that doesn't mean anything, like "People's Choice Award" or "social media expert."