Trump has dragged America back to full-on Lost Cause craziness

April 9, 1865: The surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia in the McLean House in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia, signaling the end of the Civil War. Credit: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

The surrender at Appomattox was Fake News.

The white South was just playing possum, lying low till another John C. Calhoun (who called slavery “a positive good”) or Nathan Bedford Forrest (slave-trader, Klan founder: What’s not to like?) arose to lead the light-complected to the pale Promised Land, and lo! when Donald Trump took the White House, we see that the spirit of Dixie now stretches all across the continent, from Seattle to Key West, Baja to Bangor.

President Donald Trump. Pennsylvania Capital-Star file photo.

As president of the New Confederate States of America, Donald Trump spent the Fourth of July weekend scaring his MAGA-hatted vassals with visions of “angry mobs” hell-bent on destroying “the American way of life,” which apparently means the worship of certain statues, mostly of fine white gentlemen who enslaved Black folks, or took up arms against the U.S. in 1861, or both.

Only “the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, and the looters,” as Trump calls anyone planning on voting against him in November, could possibly question the virtue of Andrew Jackson or P.G.T. Beauregard or, for that matter, Donald Trump — the smartest genius who ever paid a boy to take his SATs for him.

Trump has dragged America back to full-on Lost Cause craziness in which white folks are victims, Christians are persecuted, tradition is trashed, rugged individualism is under attack, brown and black people will steal your stuff (not to mention ravish your women), and science is the enemy.

In the Old Confederacy, the plantation class declared slavery beneficial to “heathen Africans” (they did all the work, but we gave them Jesus!) while anyone advocating for, say, treating enslaved people like the human beings they were, or suggesting women were worthy of full citizenship or favored aid for the poor were often called “seditious” or threats to “law and order.”

These days, Donald Trump operates out of the same playbook, trafficking in cruelty (refugee kids in cages), paranoia (Obama and his evil minions continue to operate against him, along with George Soros and Black Lives Matter), and other vicious fantasies — including pushing hydroxychloroquine again as a cure for that nasty old coronavirus, even though no reputable study shows it’s effective.

Trump is aided and abetted by our own New Confederacy governor, Ron DeSantis, who, since he is beholden to the very stable genius for the position he currently occupies, will do as he’s told.

Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference April 29 in the state Capitol, discussing his “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step.” Plan for Florida’s Recovery. Credit: Screenshot, Florida Channel.

To be fair, DeSantis is probably not a sociopath: He rarely exceeds garden-variety jerk.

Give him time. DeSantis, like Trump, has also palled around with white supremacists.

Like Trump, he wants to pretend that COVID-19 is “plateauing” or even going away, never mind that Florida keeps nearing or exceeding 10,000 new cases a day.

Surely there aren’t THAT many Latino farm workers coming in and coughing ’rona germs on our tomatoes.

Anyway, it’s just the testing, right? If we didn’t test so much, we wouldn’t have so many cases of the ’rona.

So, since it’s all just an accounting trick — those aren’t real people filling up the ICUs of Florida hospitals, some of them sick unto death — why not let ’er rip?

Open Disney World!

Open beauty salons!

(Maybe not bars).

Welcome the Republican National Convention to Jacksonville, where a very nervous mayor has just ordered Duval County residents to wear face masks.

And, of course, schools.

Trump has decreed that schools and colleges go back to regular order — or else — assuring us, “We don’t want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons.”

Perish the thought! But apparently a Certain Political Party and a Certain Candidate (whose name rhymes with “Toe Hidin’”) “think it’s gonna be good for them politically so they keep the schools closed.”

(Democrats, you see, might try to steal the election by getting Mrs. Garcia’s entire 7th grade “Story of America” class to vote illegally).

Florida’s governor, ear always cocked toward D.C., heard “Jump!” and didn’t even need to ask “How high?”

high school classroom, school, education
Student may be filling classrooms like this in shifts when schools reopen in August. Credit: Pixabay.

Within hours of Trump barking an all-caps tweet demanding in-person classroom teaching resume as normal, Florida’s Commissioner of Education ordered the state’s schools to reopen in August.

After all, as the governor pointed out, if Wal-Mart and Home Depot are open, why not schools? Kids don’t get the ’rona anyway and, if they do, it’s not a big deal, and you whiney teachers, lunch ladies, and janitors just have to suck it up and take one for the (Trump) team.

It’s an honor, really. As so many of those Lost Cause monuments read, Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori.

Or, for those who don’t speak Latin, “It is sweet and proper to die for your country.”

The CDC, Birx, Fauci and all the rest of those egghead losers don’t like the idea, but what do they know? At Trump’s recent meeting on education and the ’rona, he made them sit on the back row, with the children of parents who’d been invited to speak.

The New Confederates don’t care what professors and doctors and suchlike think.

In 1861, the boys in grey believed that one Southerner could whip ten Yankees; in 2020, the Trumpists believe that going to a crowded bar is patriotic, mask-wearing is communist, and those epidemiologists are lying Deep State operatives who only keep talking about this coronavirus to destroy the economy and stop Donald Trump’s re-election.

American carnage, indeed.

Diane Roberts
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.