Since the end of the Civil War the cry from the defeated Confederacy has been “The South will rise again!” When you look at his base, you can see many of the elements of the beliefs on which the Confederacy was founded. They just wear a different hat.
They support the supremacy of White Americans. They are intensely religious. They are also traitors to the Constitution.
When Trump calls White supremacists “very fine people” while vilifying the Black Lives Matter movement, he is extolling the very values that those who sought to destroy America held dear. His obvious bias against people of color reflects the racist values that hearkens back to the days of Jim Crow and segregation.
So, when Trump defends statues that honor those who supported these values, he is defending the Confederacy. When he opposes the renaming of military bases because they represent “American heroes”, he is honoring traitors. When he criticizes the banning of the Confederate flag, he is standing up for the racist values it represents while ignoring the pain it causes the descendants of those who were in bondage.
The religious hypocrisy of the Confederacy is equally astounding. Churches are filled with those who had the stated purpose of Christian charity while promoting segregation. Those who were enslaved were given the choice of converting or death. Later generations were taught to “keep their place” with the promise of an “eternal reward” should they not upset the status quo.
Now, the predominantly white religious right is wholeheartedly supporting Donald Trump because they seek a return to the more “genteel ways” when people knew their place and there was none of this “uppity” attitude. They want a world that made sense to them, when they held a Bible in one hand and a rifle in the other.
So, Trump’s photo-op moment, while repulsive to many Americans, struck a deep cord with the religious right. Being “people of faith”, they are willing to ignore science if it conflicts with their beliefs. Instead, they blindly follow those who are charismatic and put them in harm’s way because it fits their narrative.
Because of this, his base is willing to ignore the many disturbing aspects of this administration. They look the other way when he praises dictators. They refuse to acknowledge the allegations of abuse of power or sexual abuse. They nod their heads in agreement as he calls factual reporting Fake News and labels the media the “Enemy of the People”.
As thousands die from the coronavirus, his followers continue to allow themselves to be duped. They believe he is both “one of them” and “sent by God”. They see the rise of an America they think they once knew. They see the resurrection of the Confederacy while claiming to be “loyal Americans”, with ridiculous sayings like “I kneel for the cross and stand for the flag”, completely ignoring the systemic racism that causes athletes to kneel.
The New Confederacy is all around us. However, this time, instead of wearing white hoods, they wear MAGA hats.