If you’ve ever wanted a one-stop video clip to send anyone on social media who starts in on that “tearing down Confederate monuments means erasing history” bullshit—like the Donald Trump, to name but one—John Oliver has you covered. On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, Oliver ran down the Confederate statue issue in ways that will have your uncle that everyone rolls their eyes at come Thanksgiving screaming “fake news” and downing another scotch. For Oliver, a British guy who’d, as he explains, like to eat in an Indian restaurant some time in his life, the idea of acknowledging rather than whitewashing (and how) your country’s sometimes shameful past is a sign of intellectual honesty and character. Unlike one rebel pigeon-toilet enthusiast shown complaining that his poor farmer ancestors should get a pass because—and this is not a joke—“slaves were really expensive.”
Still, any time the issue comes up (like in this article!), timelines and comment sections are swamped with the same conspicuously similar talking points, so Oliver debunks them in turn. For example, Oliver shows that most of the more than 700 public statues of Confederate figures in America were erected long after the Civil War ended, with the largest spikes in construction taking place, again suspiciously, during periods like Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement, where whites started getting a little antsy about black people asserting themselves. Also, Oliver dismantles that whole “the Civil War wasn’t about slavery” argument by simply quoting Confederate state constitutions and official declarations that explicitly declare the preservation of slavery and the racial superiority of white people as their core principles. Oh, and then there’s the fact that many of these monuments were proposed and dedicated by actual Klansmen. Pesky thing, actual historical records. (You know, like the one where Confederate president Robert E. Lee said unequivocally that people shouldn’t put up Confederate statues.)
And as to the intellectually dishonest willful ignorance of the argument that removing Confederate statues is one of those “slippery slopes” that will lead to a horrifyingly statue-less America, Oliver proposed that drawing lines somewhere is more American than drawing them absolutely nowhere. Oliver proposed that there’s a “Hitler-Hanks Spectrum” of humanity, and that moving the demarcation point a little more toward the Hanks-ian isn’t really that hard to envision. Proving his point, Oliver went on to unveil a number of alternative statues that could more ably occupy the empty plinths of shitcanned traitorous slaveholders statuary, including escaped slave turned U.S. Congressman Robert Smalls, first black female pilot Bessie Coleman, and, representing his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, the actual Stephen Colbert. (Oliver also proposes that all Florida statues be replaced with an alligator named Herman flipping the bird, which might be a tougher sell. Or not.) So copy, paste, and infuriate some of your most ignorant trolls today!