As I’ve driven around the South for a week on this grave trip, one thing that I initially noticed was the relative lack of Confederate flags compared to past trips. That’s especially true in the cemeteries. As a maximalist on Confederate flag displays–they should be illegal and it should be treated like the Swastika in Germany because they are the same thing–I was very happy to not see Confederate flags at Confederate graves, including in cemeteries I have visited before where the damn things are festooned everywhere. If I am burying a relative or friend, why should I have to see racist treason flags? I shouldn’t. It’s not as if Black people aren’t being buried in these places today! So this was positive and an obvious response to Black Lives Matter and the marches for justice. I only saw one in any cemetery that someone had placed up in front of some random grave. Of course I pulled it out, snapped it in half, and rubbed my dirty shoes on it.
I also saw relatively few Confederate flags just driving around. At first this was even more surprisingly. And then I realized that all the Confederate flags were just replaced by Trump flags, which makes sense because the reason people displayed those things in the first place was to herald the return of a white supremacist leader. In other words, Donald Trump is literally the word made flesh for these people. Why display the past flag of white supremacy when you can display the current flag? And those of course were everywhere in the rural South, the most disturbing was one of Trump with a machine gun blowing away unseen opponents. The message we should take from these flags is exactly the message that we should take from the Confederate flag. Because, again, for those who wave them, they are the exact same thing.