Confederate Memorial Day and the broader culture of Confederate remembrance is a regular and easy target for late night comedians and other commentators. The Daily Show has gone after it for years [see here, here, and here].
Last night Trevor Noah offered some observations about this year’s marking of Confederate Memorial Day.
The skit deserves a chuckle or two, but it misses the dramatic shift that has taken place within the South over the past few years regarding how the Confederacy is commemorated and remembered in public spaces. Communities are removing and/or debating what to do with their Confederate monuments. Confederate battle flags are coming down from public spaces.
The real point of Colbert, Bee, and Noah isn’t to fight injustice, it is winning the culture wars. It makes their audience feel good to be able to feel like they are pointing out injustice and as an added bonus getting to laugh at people who are culturally different than they are. The money moment in the clip is when they show the reenactor with the pronounced southern accent. It’s just knocking over straw men. Not many pay attention to Confederate Memorial Day, but its an excuse to make snarky comments about a segment of society that dared to vote the wrong way in the last election. I didn’t vote for Trump, I think reenactors have a strange hobby (wearing wool in summer?), and I think the right side won the Civil War. But guys like Noah aren’t the new Will Rogers, they’re just the next Rush Limbaughs playing the mob on the other side of the street.
Just wondering how far the tide of removing monuments will take us. Is this just a movement that involves Civil War monuments/flags OR all historic figures who were slave owners. Will we continue to honor Washington, Jefferson? Still palatable to visit Mt. Vernon, The Washington Monument, The Jefferson Memorial, Monticello? I recently visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture. An amazing venture into the history of the United States. Also just saw Hamilton, another peek into the origins of our country. While I believe that obvious markers honoring white supremacy shouldn’t be in the public square–and never should have been, is it possible we can make room for all of our history?
Thanks for taking the time to comment.
I think part of the problem is that those who fought for the Confederacy, regardless of whether it was the highest ranking general or the lowliest private, were fighting for a nation whose goal was the creation of an independent slaveholding empire that would stretch westward and perhaps even beyond.
I’m not disagreeing, but I don’t think that’s the real issue to anyone but historians.
For the mainstream, I think they’re objecting to the fact that “heritage” is used as a polemic substitute for racism. It’s socially acceptable to express Southern Pride in places where White Supremacy would be less acceptable.
I can only share what I’ve been reading from interviews, editorials, etc.
Trevor Noah is basically presenting the controversy to an audience that may not understand what it is about. It is easy to see monument removal as a negative thing without being informed about their context. I myself have learned a lot and my opnion has changed drastically about it.
So, you can’t remove Confederate monuments because they were American veterans … but then why do they need their own special “Confederate Memorial Day?”
If they’re legitimate American veterans, then regular Memorial Day should be enough. If they’re NOT legitimate veterans, then they shouldn’t be memorialized on Federal property. PICK ONE. :p