After a miserable week, Jon Stewart did some celebrating on The Daily Show Wednesday night, where he covered the uproar to remove the Confederate flag from outside the South Carolina State Building and elsewhere throughout the South. Still — as Stewart may know better than anyone — every silver lining has a cloud, and the host found plenty of continued ignorance to rip apart.
Stewart began with the positives, noting that supporters of the Confederate flag’s removal include those attached to the older generation. Paul Thurmond, a South Carolina State Senator and the son of staunch segregationist Strom Thurmond, is among those advocating for the flag’s removal. “That’s like if Kool-Aid Man’s son took to the floor of the Senate to give a lecture on the importance of wall preservation,” Stewart cracked.
Elsewhere, retailers such as Target, Sears, eBay, Amazon and even Etsy have vowed to stop selling Confederate flag merchandise, a move ostensibly prompted by Walmart’s decision to do the same. But one progressive step doesn’t negate the corporate behemoth’s history of questionable practices; and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon’s surprise that Confederate flag merchandise appeared on store shelves was plenty to elicit Stewart’s New Jersey wise-guy voice.
“‘I mean, look, I knew we sold cheap guns, really cheap — to anybody,'” Stewart mocked. “‘Tremendous stopping power. You come to Walmart and buy some of those guns, you could have a hell of a standoff. My point is this: I didn’t know you could get them with the stars and bars holster. That sends a very dangerous message.”‘
Of course, there are still many who want to preserve the flag, but Stewart picked apart their fear-mongering, including an especially deft dismantling of one man’s claim that doing away with the Confederate flag would be akin to Stalinism. As for the long held “heritage not hate,” argument, Stewart noted the heritage being defended is one of fighting against the United States for slavery.
Stewart ended the segment with a reminder that removing the Confederate flag is “a small part of a much larger problem. Ideally this debate is only the start of a longer conversation addressing the kind of institutional and systemic racism that we have yet to disassemble, that continues to this very day.”