If there’s one thing that Donald Trump has truly accomplished (and the coming grand jury is still way out on that one), it’s that his incessant coddling of white supremacists has taken the hazy, eyes-averted embarrassment that many people carry about the existence of Confederate monuments in America and focused it into a laser-guided effort to bring those things down. On Wednesday’s Daily Show, host Trevor Noah invited regular correspondent Roy Wood Jr. to give his perspective on the issue before the two of them bounced some creatively cathartic replacement ideas off each other.
Wood took the time to dismantle some of the most popular Confederate statue enthusiast talking points, which wasn’t really that hard. Wood pointed out how most of these monuments to those who fought so valiantly to keep black people as property were, in fact, erected long after the Civil War had ended, as a method of reminding black Americans of their “second-class” status during the Jim Crow era. Wood went after the idea that it’s important to remember the South’s long history of slavery via pretty statuary, comparing it to a woman being forced to keep pictures of her abusive ex around the house. (“I don’t need pictures to remember pain,” is Wood’s summation.) He also debunked the idea that the average Confederate memorabilia buff isn’t motivated by racial animus, aided by the on-camera rant of one Russell Walker, whose interview after losing a lawsuit to restore the Confederate flag to South Carolina courtrooms saw the totally not-bigoted flag fan letting slip a particularly vile version of the name of Martin Luther King that is clearly part of his squirmy, race-baiting inner monologue.
With Noah joining in, Wood came up with his own alternatives to the various solutions being enacted and proposed for dealing with what are finally being openly lambasted as monuments to slavery (and rallying points for those who clearly think slavery wasn’t such a bad idea). Sure, their proposals (involving past and present black historical figures doing rude things) might be impractical and/or goofy. But Wood pointed out that Charlottesville’s temporary plan to drape its Confederate monuments in black tarps isn’t even as effective as drinking your beer on the street out of a paper bag. As he puts it, “With a paper bag, at least you’re acknowledging that you’re doing something wrong.”