This weekend, Confederate-flag supporters in Alabama held an Irony Free Rally where people said the following with a straight face.
Standing at the bottom of the Capitol’s steps, where 50 years ago Martin Luther King Jr. led a march for civil rights, Tim Steadman said it wasn’t right to remove the flags.
“Right now, this past week with everything that is going on, I feel very much like the Jews must have felt in the very beginning of the Nazi Germany takeover,” he said. “I mean I do feel that way, like there is a concerted effort to wipe people like me out, to wipe out my heritage and to erase the truths of history.”
Mr. Steadman, I’m glad you recognize that the Nazis were the bad guys, based on your viewings of Indiana Jones films. And I suppose you never got around to reading statements Nazis made about the Jews and statements your Confederate heroes made about blacks, but do you really feel like the German Jews who were driven out of their homes, robbed of their property, and hid in attics before eventually being worked to death in concentration camps? Are you sure you don’t feel more like this lady?
Standing next to Steadman was Ronnie Simmons, who wore a t-shirt with the face of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Davis, who was elected as the first and only Confederate president inside the historic Alabama Senate chamber inside the Capitol in 1861, once lived a block away in the First White House of the Confederacy while Montgomery was briefly the capital.
Simmons said Bentley was a “scallywag,” referring to a term used in the years after the Civil War during the Reconstruction period to describe white southerners who collaborated with northerners.
“It’s alienating the white people in the state of Alabama when you take something down in a historic setting,” Simmons said. “If scallywag Bentley thinks he’s improved race relations in this state, he’s as crazy as a bed bug.”
There are Jefferson Davis t-shirts? I don’t think there are that many Jimmy Carter t-shirts in the South, and his eventual defeat was less ignominious.
Also, people still use the term “scallywag”? That usually only appears in the scripts of movies set in the South that were written by someone whose only exposure to the region was reruns of Dukes of Hazzard.
Sherry Butler Clayton said the flag is a way to honor her relatives tied to the Confederacy.
“I have many, many ancestors,” she said. “A lot of them are in unknown graves up North where they died on the battlefield. A lot of them came back maimed. And it’s just a way. I don’t hate anyone. I love all people. My daughter-in-law is black and I love her and I love her family. So it’s not a black white issue. It’s a heritage issue.”
This is what I call the complete failure of integration. A black person can marry into a white family, and her in-laws can claim to love her and her family (quite the perk, it’s like the racist version of adding your relatives to your cell phone plan), but that doesn’t change their views on issues that affect the black pet… excuse me, the black daughter-in-law.
One woman held a sign that said “Southern Lives Matter,” a variation of the “Black Lives Matter” phrase that became a rallying call after the shootings of unarmed black men in multiple states.
Well, when you put it that way, it doesn’t seem so racist… no, wait, it does. These people seem to forget that they don’t live in Maine or Vermont. They live in a region with a significant black population. The South is not just Scarlett O’Hara. It’s also Martin Luther King. We were chased from our homes by white terrorists shortly after the war. But it won’t happen again.
Good Ole Nonsense…
TV Land has pulled repeats of The Dukes of Hazzard because the protagonists drive around in a car named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The General Lee also has the Confederate flag painted on it. In light of recent events, TV Land thought this was a bit much. It’s not necessarily a political statement. They also pulled repeats of The Cosby Show when allegations surfaced that Bill Cosby drugged and raped women. Although, that’s a little different, as Cosby didn’t commit these offensive acts on the show itself, but still TV Land is not The History Channel. In fact, The History Channel isn’t even The History Channel anymore. TV Land airs mindless TV shows that people put on in the background while making dinner. It’s not in the business of offending people.
However, this decision has offended fans of The Dukes of Hazzard, including its star John Schneider .
“The Dukes of Hazzard was and is no more a show seated in racism than Breaking Bad was a show seated in reality,” Schneider told the Hollywood Reporter.
He said the show’s residual royalties “have never been much to write home about,” and then he said more.
“I am saddened that one angry and misguided individual can cause one of the most beloved television shows in the history of the medium to suddenly be seen in this light,” Schneider said. “Are people who grew up watching the show now suddenly racists? Will they have to go through a detox and a 12-step program to kick their Dukes habit? ‘Hi … My name is John. I’m a Dukesoholic.’”
I should first point out that after 9/11, almost all images of the World Trade Center were removed from TV shows or movies that aired on cable. It is not an assault from the Thought Police but just an attempt at sensitivity.
Schneider also tweeted a link to a photo of alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof wearing a Gold’s Gym T-shirt. “Is the Golds Gym logo to be considered a symbol of racism as well now?” he asked.
Jeez. Look, a Gold Gym’s tee-shirt is not the symbol of racial oppression and the attempt to preserve slavery. This is like the people who say, “Well, the KKK wears sheets. Should I not sleep on sheets?”
“It amazes me that anyone could take offense to the General Lee,” Schneider said… “… If there was ever a non-racist family, it was the Dukes of Hazzard.”
I haven’t watched the show in a while, so I might not recall the episodes where the Duke brothers worked to desegregate Hazzard diners or let O.J. Simpson crash at their place when his car broke down on the way to Atlanta. However, most Southern black people aren’t in a rush to hang out with people who wave around the Confederate flag and name their cars after Confederate generals. In fairness, we probably never said anything, because you usually don’t want to engage in a heated political discussion with white guys who drive around in cars named after Confederate generals that have the “Rebel” flag on it.
Maybe that’s the problem. Southerners grow up hearing about the “Rebels” fighting the “Union” and just assume that the Civil War was like Star Wars. However, the Rebel Alliance wasn’t fighting to preserve slavery — not simply out of altruism but more practicality, as there was only the one black guy in the galaxy.
Schneider is not the only “Dukes” cast member to defend the show in recent days. In a Facebook post, Ben Jones — a former Democratic congressman from Georgia who played mechanic Cooter on the show and runs three“Hazzard”-themed museums — rallied round the flag.
“I THINK ALL OF HAZZARD NATION UNDERSTANDS THAT THE CONFEDERATE BATTLE FLAG IS THE SYMBOL THAT REPRESENTS THE INDOMITABLE SPIRIT OF INDEPENDENCE WHICH KEEPS US ‘MAKIN’ OUR WAY THE ONLY WAY WE KNOW HOW,’” wrote Jones — in all caps. “THAT FLAG ON TOP OF THE GENERAL LEE MADE A STATEMENT THAT THE VALUES OF THE RURAL SOUTH WERE THE VALUES OF COURAGE AND FAMILY AND GOOD TIMES.”
Huh? The Confederate flag somehow represents “independence,” when the leaders not only wanted to preserve slavery but spread it further? The Declaration of Independence details countless acts of British tyranny, from which the colonies wanted to free themselves. The primary grievance that led to Southern succession was the right to continue keeping people in bondage. And it’s not like Lincoln was elected and issued the Emancipation Proclamation at his inaugural. The South bolted simply because it feared what Lincoln might do.
Oh, well, I’m sure Mr. Jones can’t say anything dumber.
He added: “WE ARE NOT RACISTS. WE DESPISE RACISM AND BIGOTRY. AND WE THINK THE PEOPLE WHO ARE CREATING THIS ‘CULTURAL CLEANSING’ ARE THE REAL BIGOTS IN THIS STORY.”
Huh, so black people inform you that your racist flag is racist, so you then double down behind faulty history as justification (you might as well claim that the Civil War started because Jefferson Davis wouldn’t chop down a cherry tree), and we’re the racists?
The sad thing is that many black kids and non-racist white kids loved The Dukes of Hazzard and dreamed of riding around in the General Lee. What was racist was that they weren’t taught history and were permitted to function in ignorance about the past. I loved the visual image of Captain America’s arch-enemy the Red Skull, but I knew enough history to know that the swastika on his costume wasn’t just a cool emblem. Fortunately, no American Jew or gentile grew up in a society where the crimes of the Nazis were so easily forgotten.
Posted by Stephen Robinson on July 2, 2015 in Social Commentary
Tags: Confederate Flag, dukes of hazzard, dylan roof, tv land