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Dallas Confederate Monument Bickering Gets John Oliver Cameo

A protester in Dallas offered the comedian fodder for his take on just how goofy and tone-deaf the Confederate memorial conversation has become.
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A state trooper stands guard during a protest by the Confederate Monument in downtown Dallas. Photo by James Coreas.

Back in August, as the debate over the future of Dallas’ various Confederate monuments and street names was only heating up, the In Solidarity Movement staged a protest at the Confederate War Monument that sits in Pioneer Park Cemetery just outside the Dallas Convention Center.

The protest, as these things do, attracted some folks who believe we need to leave the monuments alone. In the midst of the hubbub, a cringe-worthy (to say the least) back-and-forth between Michael Waters, the founding pastor of Joy Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E) Church, and a man bearing a Confederate flag, went down like this, according to our reporter in the field Doyle Rader:

Like Waters before him, Rick was frequently interrupted by shouts and accusations from the crowd. Unlike Waters, though, Rick engaged those confronting him and spoke about a race war that began in the 1700s. At this point, the gathering resembled a Facebook argument more than anything else. This exchange got the most play on the evening newscast, between Waters and a bearded man in a blue shirt holding a Confederate flag (who wouldn’t give his name):

Waters: Why do you carry that flag?

Man: Because this is my heritage! My family fought to save their farm under that flag!

Waters: Who was working that farm?

Man: My family was!

Waters: Who was working that farm?

Man: They were poor! Do you know how much a slave cost back then?

Yikes. Well, nothing goes unnoticed these days, and that precise bit of dialogue was picked up by John Oliver in his 20-plus minute take-down of the Confederate debate on last Sunday’s Last Week Tonight. Here’s the full clip, but you’ll have to advance to the 9-minute mark to watch the shocking bit Dallas contributed to the piece. And in response to it all, here’s Oliver’s zinger:

“You know you are wrong when you decide that your best argument with a black man is ‘Do you know how expensive you used to be.’ It is comments like that one that landed that guy on the cover of ‘Holy Sh*t that is not remotely the point magazine.'”

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