(LOS ANGELES) — NASCAR recently banned the Confederate flag from its raceways, and angry protestors have defaced and toppled statues commemorating Confederate, and in some cases Union, figures from the Civil War.
Another big target to many is one of the most famous uses of the Confederate flag: the one painted atop that blaze orange ’69 Dodge Charger, the General Lee, in The Dukes of Hazzard.
The Hollywood Reporter asked the classic series’ stars John Schneider, Tom Wopat and Ben “Cooter” Jones, and the show’s creator, Gy Waldron, about the serious controversy surrounding the arguably silly show.
“I have never had an African American come up to me and have any problem with it whatsoever,” says Bo Duke’s alter-ego, John Schneider. He added, “the whole politically correct generation has gotten way out of hand.”
But Wopat, who played Luke Duke, allowed, “The situation in the country has obviously changed in the last 40 years. I feel fortunate to be living in a time when we can address some of the injustices of the past.”
However, he adds, “the car is innocent.”
Ben Jones, who played Cooter the mechanic, and later became a Democratic Georgia congressman, agreed. “This was a family show. Black families watched it for generations.”
Jones added digitally removing the General Lee’s flag in future airings of the show “would be like taking the ‘S’ off of Superman’s chest.”
Incidentally, Jones runs a chain of Dukes-themed stores called Cooter’s Place.
Lenoxburg, Kentucky native Waldron, now 87, says he “wholeheartedly support the Black Lives Matter movement and its quest to address racism around the world,” but acknowledges, “I had relatives fight on both sides of the Civil War and…No one even connected the Confederate flag with slavery. It was simply a part of our Southern culture.”
By Stephen Iervolino
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