John Oliver Ridicules United States' Racist, Colonialist Attitude Toward Its Territories

Did you know that over 98 percent of people living in U.S. territories are racial or ethnic minorities? Or that 1 in 8 adult residents of Guam are military veterans? Or that the legal justification for the disenfranchisement of the territories is based on a 114-year-old decision that says they are “inhabited by alien races” who “can’t understand Anglo-Saxon laws.”


These are the kinds of anachronisms and hypocrisies that form the foundation of the United States’ relationship to its territories. According to John Oliver, they’re the kind of facts we “knew but chose not to think about, like the fact that the dog from Full House is definitely dead by now.”

Oliver chronicles the many injustices suffered by residents of Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, all of whom are U.S. citizens, none of whom can vote in the general election. In American Samoa, residents aren’t even granted citizenship, rendering the "American" part of their name “just a title that doesn’t really mean anything, like People’s Choice Award nominee or social media expert.”

These countries have sacrificed significant parcels of land to military bases and thousands of young people to American wars, yet they have no say in electing the president and only symbolic representation in Congress. “At this point,” Oliver said, “the American flag should just be a guy from Guam holding the American flag.”

Watch the clip, complete with Oliver’s uniquely spastic dance to Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What." 

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