John Oliver thinks Confederate generals are similar to child-raping British entertainers.
That was one of the arguments underlying his Sunday night rant about America continuing to honor figures associated with the Lost Cause.
Oliver began his 20-minute segment by introducing the case of Jimmy Savile, a previously beloved television and radio entertainer in the UK. Savile is no longer much liked anymore after it became public that he abused dozens of children. Statues and plaques honoring him have come down due to the revelations that he was a sexual predator.
Oliver finds this a fitting analogy to Confederate monuments, saying, “Once we found out that he was a monster, we accepted that it was no longer appropriate to publicly glorify him.”
This is one of the dumbest analogies ever put forward for the Confederate monument debate, and it makes sense that a Brit made it. It’s not like we haven’t known about the bad things the Confederacy was associated with for as long as the South honored the men who fought for it.
Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard weren’t discovered to be slaveowners after their statues went up.
More importantly, the reason for the monuments is completely different from the honors awarded Savile. The handful of plaques and statues for Savile were meant to honor a man who merely entertained people. He was a local hero for his achievements, but he wasn’t some great figure who embodied the heritage of British people.
Confederate generals represent southern heritage and pride. They are cultural icons for a large region of America. Those who honor them know about their role with slavery and rebelling against America. But they led the ancestors of Southerners into battle, and their conduct, especially of Lee, is considered an example to follow.
The concept of honoring your ancestors and your heritage is a concept that is never brought up by Oliver. Maybe ignorant Brits telling Americans what statues we can and can’t put up isn’t such a great idea.
However, there is a good British analogy for Confederate statues that Oliver overlooked in order to help his argument. Throughout the United Kingdom, there are statues and monuments dedicated to figures who were strongly connected with colonialism, a great sin according to the modern-day Left.
One of those figures who strongly supported colonialism is none other than Winston Churchill. For most people, Churchill is the man who saved the U.K. from the clutches of Hitler and helped turn the tide of World War II.
But he was also a figure who believed fervently in preserving the British Empire and saw its non-white subjects as inferior to Anglo-Saxons. Churchill despised Islam and thought “no stronger retrograde force exists in the world” besides that religion.
While one could say these were just the views of his time (which they were), the argument could go that they were intrinsically tied with his support for the British empire, as The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor has argued.
That would make him just as repellent as the Confederate generals who fought for slavery, in the eyes of people like John Oliver.
The late night comedian’s argument for taking down Confederate monuments statues rests on the belief that their principal cause was slavery, and that the rebels fought against the United States.
Does Oliver know that America has plenty of monuments dedicated to Amerindians who also fought against the U.S. government and owned slaves? Wonder what he would think of that.
It also would be interesting to know what Oliver thinks of statues to proud British colonialists like Churchill.
History is complicated, and it is wrong to force the past to conform to the standards of today. Confederate monuments serve as memorials to Southern heritage and culture, with all of its virtues and defects.
They are in no way comparable with that of a notorious pederast who’s only remembered for presenting the country’s biggest pop hits.