HBO late night host John Oliver weighed in yesterday (June 21) on the Confederate flag debate that’s been rekindled after a white man allegedly killed nine black people in a South Carolina church, one of whom was a state senator. Some said the flag near the state’s capitol should be lowered to half staff. Other said the flag should be taken down altogether.
Oliver was with the second group.
“The Confederate flag is one of those symbols that should really only be seen on t-shirts, belt buckles, and bumper stickers,” he said, “to help the rest of us identify the worst people in the world.”
Oliver then pointed out the absurd government inefficiency that prevents the flag from being taken down. Usually the governor decides when flags fly at half staff, as did both the American and the South Carolina flags that are on the state’s capitol building. This flag, however, does not come under the governor’s command. It is part of a war memorial in the capital, for the South Carolinians who fought in the Civil War, and only the state legislature has power to take it down by a two-thirds vote, the Washington Post notes.
“Look, South Carolina,” Oliver said. “Now might be a great time, out of respect not just for the events of the past week but for the events of the past several centuries, to take that vote and lower the flag down to half staff. And once it’s at half staff, why not keep lowering it down. And once it’s in your hands, take it off the flag pole completely, fold it—or don’t bother. Put in it a box, label it ‘bad flag’ and put it somewhere no one can see it.”