John Oliver Rants Against Confederate Flag: “Racist,” “Bad Flag”

John Oliver is over beating around the bush. The British comedian used his platform on HBO's Last Week Tonight to join in the rant against the "racist" Confederate flag on Sunday, June 21, taking a harder stance than many wavering politicians. 

Oliver, 38, spoke out against the controversial symbol after last week's tragic shooting at Charleston, S.C.'s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that killed nine people. Suspected killer Dylann Roof fired shots in the midst of a Bible study at the historically black church, killing all African-American victims, and forcing President Barack Obama to make his latest statement about gun violence.

"It is pretty clear nothing is going to be done about how this tragedy was committed, which might explain why some are focused on a symbol associated with why it happened," Oliver began after showing a clip of Obama speaking about the shooting. "In the wake of this racially motivated shooting, some people found one thing especially galling. That's right, the Confederate battle flag was flying at full staff in front of the state capitol."

"Although, perhaps the bigger question is why it was flying at any staff at all," Oliver continued. "The Confederate flag is one of those symbols that should really only be seen on T-shirts, belt buckles, and bumper stickers to help the rest of us identify the worst people in the world."

John Oliver

Long a subject of intense debate, the Confederate flag still flies in much of the South, but perhaps not for much longer, as Mitt Romney and others have called for the flag's removal with President Obama's support

"I believe the first time the Confederate flag was used in a racist way was the exact second they finished sewing the very first one," Oliver added. "It was around that time."

"Now look, look, South Carolina — indeed any state that flies this flag, as even part of their actual state flag, Mississippi, holy s–t — now might be a great time out of respect not just for the events of this week, but for the events of the past several centuries, to take that vote, and lower the flag down to half-staff," the Daily Show alum added. "Then when it's at half-staff, why not keep lowering it all the way down, and once you're holding it in your hands, take it off the flagpole completely, fold it, or don't bother, put it in a box, label it 'Bad Flag,' and put it somewhere no one can see it."

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