In the wake of the tragic and senseless mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina last week, many are furious that the Confederate flag still flies in the state and so many others. And no one is more angry than America's non-American voice of reason, John Oliver. On his Sunday night episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver blasted the Confederate flag for being a blatant symbol of the racism that seems to be at the root of the horrific Charleston shooting. But, in true Oliver fashion, he doesn't just rant without offering any solutions, and he's got a brilliant one for every Confederate flag.
Oliver opens his segment by playing a clip of President Obama sounding defeated and hopeless when addressing the Charleston shooting, which is just one of more than a dozen he's had to address during his two terms. And yet, nothing has been done about gun violence in this country. More likely than not, nothing will be done after the latest Charleston shooting either. So maybe, at least for now, it's more worth our while to go to the source of why the attack happened in the first place. Many are saying that the Confederate flag, a symbol of racial segregation in America, was the impetus.
Immediately after the Charleston shooting, two flags on top of the South Carolina State House were lowered to half-staff as a gesture of respect to the victims, but the Confederate flag outside the building was never lowered, prompting many to wonder about the State House's decision.
Perhaps the bigger question is why it was flying at any staff at all. The Confederate flag is one of those symbols that should only really be seen on t-shirts, belt buckles, and bumper stickers to help the rest of us identify the worst people in the world.
However, what seems like such a glaring symbol of hate to many Americans is a time-honored tradition to some, and these people have, throughout history, defended the Confederate flag and helped keep it around. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who is a candidate for the Republican presidential nominee, told CNN:
This is part of who we are. The flag represents to some people a civil war and that was the symbol of one side. To others it's a racist symbol and it's been used ... in a racist way.
Obviously, Oliver says.
I believe the first time a Confederate flag was "used in a racist way" was the exact second they finished sewing the very first one.
However, to be "somewhat fair," Oliver points out that the Confederate flag outside of the South Carolina State House cannot be lowered — literally — because it is affixed to the pole. And in order to lower, remove, or do anything with that flag, you would need two-thirds majority vote in each chamber of the state assembly.
They were originally going to make it three-fifths, but even they thought that might be a bit on the nose.
Well, Oliver has a message to the states that still fly this flag, including states that have it as part of their real flag (he's looking at you, Mississippi).
Now might be a great time, out of respect not just to the events of this week, but to the events of the past several centuries, to take that vote and lower the flag down to half-staff. And then when it's at half-staff, why not keep lowering it all the way down, and once you're holding it in your hands, take it off the flag pole completely, fold it — or don't bother — put it in a box, label it "Bad Flag," and put it somewhere no one can see it. Just a thought!
Watch the entire segment here. Images: The Connector/YouTube