South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley made headlines Monday with her call to remove the Confederate flag from outside the State Building in Columbia. But as The Nightly Show's Larry Wilmore pointed out in a scathing bit, there's swamp of legislative muck to slog through before the outdated symbol of oppression is removed — if the South Carolina House and Senate even vote to remove it.
While Wilmore initially offered Haley an on-screen high-five for her statement, he retracted it after it became clear that the Governor could only demand the state's legislature debate the issue. For now, the Confederate flag will remain where it is — padlocked to its pole; though Wilmore offered to swing by with some bolt cutters, which he displays in the video below — unless a two-thirds majority votes to take it down.
"Let me give you guys a little unsolicited advice," Wilmore said. "How about just take the damn flag down right now? And then you can debate putting it back up."
Although Wilmore acknowledged Haley does have to follow proper government procedure, he cracked that South Carolina's previous governor, Mark Sanford, defied both state law — and ostensibly the laws of physics — when he trekked the Appalachian Trail to Argentina to carry out a secret affair.
Wilmore continued his screed against the stars and bars in a segment called "For the Record," in which he tore down the widely held notion that the Confederate flag is a symbol of heritage, not one of fear and intimidation. Along with the objective fact that the Confederacy was founded on, per Vice President Alexander H. Stephens' 1861 "Cornerstone Speech," "the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man," South Carolina hasn't been flying the Confederate flag since the South seceded — it went up in 1961 to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the Civil War.
"And coincidentally," Wilmore added, "right around when the black people started with the wanting of the civil rights."
To close out his argument, Wilmore noted that the Confederate flag is such a strong symbol of hatred and oppression that it has been adopted by skinheads and neo-Nazis across Europe, where in many places it is illegal to display a swastika. "It's such a racist symbol, that it does double duty as the backup racist symbol for another racist symbol!" Wilmore exclaimed.
"So for the record," he continued, "I get it that plenty of honorable people have fuzzy feelings about the Confederate flag, but that's irrelevant. Their nostalgia will never trump the people who see it as a symbol of hate."