Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Before our main story tonight,

  • I'd like to do something a little different

  • and just quickly tell you about a beloved icon

  • of my childhood, and it's this man...

  • WOMAN: For 20 years he made the dreams of young people

  • come true,

  • with his hugely popular Jim'll Fix It program.

  • Best known for his trademark jewelry,

  • track suits, tinted glasses, and Havana cigar.

  • Now, I know it's hard to believe,

  • but that bizarre looking man, Jimmy Savile,

  • was a national hero.

  • We named places for him, we gave him a knighthood,

  • we even put up this statue of him,

  • even though it clearly looks more like

  • a cheese sculpture of George Carlin

  • -that someone left in the sun. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)

  • Now, he had a show called Jim'll Fix It,

  • where he basically granted wishes.

  • And like many British kids, I actually wrote to him.

  • I asked him

  • to make me the mascot for Liverpool football club,

  • and he never wrote back.

  • Which I'm actually glad about, because after he died,

  • Britain began to find out who he really was.

  • And the truth was horrific.

  • He's gone from a much loved entertainer,

  • and respected charity fundraiser,

  • to a man described by Scotland Yard

  • as a predatory sex offender.

  • Jimmy Savile's headstone was here

  • for less than three weeks.

  • His epitaph read, "It was good while it lasted."

  • Oh!

  • That is an unsettling thing

  • to have written on his gravestone.

  • Although to be fair, nearly every famous epitaph

  • would sound horrifying written on a sex offender's gravestone.

  • From Dean Martin's "Everybody loves somebody sometime,"

  • to Rodney Dangerfield's "There goes the neighborhood."

  • -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) -You know, funny, funny.

  • But if he'd been a sex offender,

  • not so much.

  • The point is, Savile's headstone was taken down,

  • as was that sign, and that creepy statue,

  • because once we found out that he was a monster,

  • we accepted it was no longer appropriate

  • to publicly glorify him.

  • Which actually brings us to our main story tonight...

  • the Confederacy.

  • America's tracksuit sex offender.

  • -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) -Now, in recent years,

  • there has been a robust debate over Confederate symbols.

  • From flags being taken down, to statues being removed,

  • to the white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville.

  • Both the one that ended in violence in August,

  • and another that happened just last night.

  • So as this debate is clearly not going away,

  • we wanted to take a look at some of the arguments.

  • Because you don't have to look hard

  • to find people very upset

  • at the idea of Confederate statues being taken away.

  • You can't change history.

  • You can't pick and choose what you decide is history.

  • I think they oughta just leave 'em alone

  • and leave 'em where they are, you know.

  • They're part of history.

  • I just don't think we can erase our history.

  • It may not represent the best idea...

  • that anybody ever came up with.

  • But nevertheless, it's part of our history.

  • And, uh, I think it should stay there.

  • You know what, I'll give him this, he is right

  • that the Confederacy and everything that came with it

  • is, to put it mildly, "not the best idea...

  • -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) -anybody ever came up with."

  • Because that of course is making grilled cheese

  • on a toaster turned sideways.

  • That is a billion-dollar idea

  • that is also completely worthless.

  • -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) -But they're also right

  • about one thing.

  • We should remember our history,

  • so tonight, let's do that.

  • And let's look at the unique heritage of these symbols.

  • Starting with the fact that there are a lot more

  • than you might expect.

  • REPORTER: The Southern Poverty Law Center

  • found some 1,500 Confederate memorials across the country.

  • More than 700 of them are statues and monuments,

  • and ten U.S. military bases

  • are named for Confederate officers.

  • Think about that.

  • There are U.S. military bases named for Confederate officers.

  • And they were the enemy. They killed U.S. soldiers.

  • That's like finding out that Nancy Kerrigan

  • -named her child Tonya Harding. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)

  • Why would you do that? That's a weird choice.

  • And tributes to the Confederacy are everywhere in the South,

  • and notably some in the North too.

  • And that map doesn't include kitschy ways

  • that the Civil War is presented, like at this family restaurant:

  • ANNOUNCER: Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede

  • brings a rip roaring taste of America to life.

  • Dixie's Stampede is a musical extravaganza

  • of sight and sound.

  • Centered around a friendly North-South rivalry,

  • friendly servers bring the delicious four course feast

  • right to you.

  • Including a whole rotisserie chicken,

  • and all the Pepsi, iced tea, or coffee you like.

  • Yes. That is a Confederate soldier

  • serving a small child all the Pepsi she likes.

  • Which is still remarkably

  • only Pepsi's second worst ad campaign.

  • (AUDIENCE LAUGHING AND CHEERING)

  • And the thing is if you grew up with experiences like that,

  • it can seem like the Civil War is just a friendly rivalry.

  • A fun, colorful part of U.S. history.

  • But that omits the key fact about the Civil War.

  • The Confederacy was fighting for the preservation of slavery.

  • And that's not my opinion, that is just a fact.

  • There are many ways that we know this.

  • Slavery is mentioned in multiple state's

  • declarations of secession

  • with Mississippi saying,

  • "Our position is thoroughly identified

  • with the institution of slavery."

  • The Confederate Constitution contains a clause

  • enshrining slavery forever.

  • And then there's the speech Alexander Stephens,

  • the Confederate vice president gave in 1861,

  • in which he articulated the basic principles

  • for the Confederate nation.

  • ALEXANDER STEPHENS: Its foundations are laid.

  • Its cornerstone rests upon the great truth

  • that the Negro is not equal to the white man.

  • That slavery, subordination to the superior race,

  • is his natural and normal condition.

  • Wow. Subordination to the superior race.

  • That is explicit.

  • If the Confederacy was not about slavery,

  • somebody should really go back in time

  • and tell the fucking Confederacy that.

  • -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) -And yet, remarkably,

  • many people think the Civil War was over something else.

  • REPORTER 2: When people were asked, "What do they think

  • the main cause of the Civil War is?"

  • 48% said, "Mainly about states' rights."

  • Only 38% said, "Mainly about slavery."

  • Nine percent said "both."

  • And that is amazing.

  • Only 38% thought the Civil War was mainly about slavery.

  • In other words, look to your left,

  • now look to your right,

  • statistically all three of you live in a country

  • where only 38% percent of people

  • -think the Civil War was mainly about slavery. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)

  • And on that "states' rights" argument, for the record,

  • the Southern states were ardently pro-states' rights.

  • But with some glaring exceptions.

  • Notably, when Northern states

  • passed laws to help protect runaway slaves,

  • the South wanted the federal government

  • to override those states laws.

  • So, they loved states' rights,

  • as long as they were the right states' rights.

  • The wrong states' rights would be states' wrongs,

  • wrongs which would need to be righted

  • by the right states' rights-- look, to put it really simply,

  • they just wanted to own black people,

  • -and they didn't much care how. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)

  • That's a fact!

  • But that's a very hard fact for some people to accept.

  • Especially if a member of your family

  • fought for the Confederacy.

  • And sometimes, the understandable desire

  • to want to distance your relative from that cause