Racism in America: Watch Trevor Noah and Roy Wood Jr. Tear Down Arguments for Keeping Up Confederate Statues

The Daily Show
“Washington and Jefferson are known for a lot of reasons,” says Wood. “You only know Robert E. Lee because he fought to keep slavery.” The Daily Show

If there's one positive aftereffect of the recent tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, it's that several Confederate monuments around the United States have been removed. According to the New York Times, statues have come down in 23 cities across the country and that number is likely to increase as pressure mounts and removal proposals—of which there are currently 20 pending—are filed.

Related: As Confederate statues fall, the group behind most of them stays silent

On Wednesday night, Trevor Noah and Roy Wood Jr. added to that pressure on The Daily Show. For more than six minutes, the host and correspondent explained why Confederate monuments have no place in the United States, dismantling all of the popular counterarguments in the process.

Noah played devil's advocate by feeding Wood some of the arguments white supremacists have made in their defense of monuments celebrating those who fought for slavery. Let's highlight a few:

The statues are about Southern culture and heritage, not racism

"Any time somebody says it's about culture or heritage, it's a euphemism," Wood says. "It's like saying you want to 'Netflix and chill.' We know what that really means. It means they're going to come over to the house and tell you they're not ready for a relationship."

They then showed a viral clip of a man making this argument, that it's not racism but heritage, before referring to Martin Luther King Jr. as Martin Luther Coon. "I shouldn't have said that," the man says, embarrassed.

The statues are about remembering history

"Most of these statues that went up...it wasn't about remembering history," explains Wood. "They were put up decades after the war."

Many of the Confederate monuments standing in the United States were erected from the 1890s to World War I, as Southern states were enacting Jim Crow laws and the KKK was being revived.

Warren Christian, a descendant of Stonewall Jackson, echoed Wood's feelings during a TV appearance. "They weren't celebrating benign war heroes," he said. "They were very clearly things that were meant to intimidate black people and further white supremacy."

"People say we want to remember the history of the Civil War," adds Noah. "I always think that there's an easier way to remember what happened in the Civil War. Just walk around in the South. If you see free black people, you know what happened in the Civil War."

What about slave owners like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington?

"Washington and Jefferson are known for a lot of reasons," says Wood, "You only know Robert E. Lee because he fought to keep slavery."

If anyone is still questioning the removal of Confederate monuments in the United States, we'll direct you to this one final analogy from Wood, which sums up how these public glorifications of the fight for slavery impacts millions of black Americans:

"Slavery is a trauma that black people to this day are still dealing with," Wood says. "To look at those statues…it's like if a woman got out of an abusive relationship and then she had to keep pictures of her ex up in her house to remember the time. No, I don't need pictures to remember pain."