The 155-Year Protest of the U.S. Government’s Rejection of the Confederacy Versus the 2016 Protests of the President-Elect
In the months leading up to the presidential election, some Trump supporters began flying a version of the Confederate Flag bearing Trump’s name.
BY AUSTIN SMITH
I do not post on social media or speak out like this often, but I want to make a couple of points about some things that have been bothering me lately. A few weeks ago, I came across a sponsored post on Instagram that advertised free “Confederate flags” or Tennessee battle flags, if you simply covered postage. This advertisement, along with many other posts that regard the protests of Donald Trump’s election, inspired me to write this article.
First, many Trump supporters say that those who did not support Trump and who protest his leadership of this country, should “get over it,” “accept his presidency,” or “accept their loss.”
However, for more than a century and a half, many Southerners and those whose ancestors fought for the South, refused to let go of the Confederate flag. Although this flag is symbolic of many things to different people, including Southern pride, Southern hospitality/chivalry, the refusal of oppression, white supremacy or racism, this flag is also a protest and a denial of the outcome of the Civil War. Not all Southerners fly this flag with the vision that “the South will rise again,” but it cannot be denied that the refusal to lay down this flag after the loss of the war was the final rebellion against the north that those who lost could carry out. Or, in other words, this was a protest against the Union’s victory over the Confederate States.
Why, then, in the wake of Trump being elected, should (mostly peaceful) protesters who use legitimate symbols of protest, who in no way harm their fellow Americans, who are worried for their friends and families, who are experiencing violent retaliation of their expression of their civil rights, who are aware of the rise in bullying and racism among schools across the nation and so on, cease their protests when those who fly this flag are, in turn, protesting the very system in which they live and participate?
Second, in the past, the Tennessee battle flag was so condemned within the United States because of the hate that it is commonly symbolic of, that you could hardly find a place in which you could purchase it. Not only was the flag extremely hard to find, but the cost to purchase one had significantly increased. My brother, who lives in small-town Missouri, was informed by his high school that he could not park his truck on campus if he continued to fly a Tennessee battle flag in the bed of his truck. Additionally, earlier this year, large-scale displays of Confederate flags were banned from Veterans Administration cemeteries, due to its association with segregation, white supremacy, racism and slavery.
At the time that I was on Instagram and came across the advertisement for Confederate flags, Trump had been elected only three days earlier. What does this say to the children of this country? How can we continue to disregard the fact that since Trump’s candidacy/election, open racists, including the Ku Klux Klan, have felt that their views and actions are sanctioned by Trump’s words, views and actions?
So, those who believe that Trump’s candidacy/election has not changed our country, I ask you to simply think about what I have just said.