Jon Schneider, a.k.a. Bo Duke, responds to TV Land’s decision to stop airing “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
In a 2001 documentary about the making of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” show creator Gy Waldron said the Confederate flag that appears on a car featured on the show — like the Good Ol’ Boys themselves — was never meanin’ no harm.
“Painting the Confederate flag on the roof of the car was done very innocently,” Waldron said, “because in the ’50s and ’60s it was very common to find Confederate flags painted on cars. There was never a political statement to be made by it. It was just part of the tradition. And once we had put it in there I saw no reason to bow to any pressure groups. We’re not making any statement regarding slavery or post-slavery or integration or anything like that.”
John Schneider — that’s Bo Duke to those who follow the Good Ol’ Boys — agreed that the General Lee, as the car is known, was far from a symbol of hate.
“It amazes me that anyone could take offense to the General Lee,” Schneider said in the documentary. “… If there was ever a non-racist family, it was the Dukes of Hazzard.”
Yet the General Lee’s signature roof seems to have just caved in. Entertainment Weekly has confirmed that the cable network TV Land pulled “The Dukes of Hazzard” from its schedule.
The network did not give a reason for the scheduling change. But amid widespread calls for the Confederate flag to come down — and Warner Bros.’ recent decision to stop licensing “Dukes” merchandise — it was hard not to see a link.
Bo Duke sure did.
“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.’”
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.
This wasn’t the end. In a video posted Wednesday to YouTube called “Can’t we all watch TV?” in which he said he wouldn’t say any more, Schneider said more.
“I can’t respond to the flag issue anymore than I already have,” he said. “… There really is no time.”
Then: “The thing that you need to understand is that people have lost their lives. This is not about a television show. It’s not about a flag. It’s not about white or black or yellow or blue or green or gold. It’s about the fact that people have lost their lives and that is what we should be thinking about.”
Though this was a “no comment” video, Schneider was just warming up.
“Do I think taking ‘Dukes’ off TV Land is silly?” he said. “Yeah, of course I do. ‘Silly’ maybe is not the right word. Do I think it’s an error? Yes. I think it’s an error because ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ was one of the most beloved shows ever — ever, ever, ever — and now it’s being cast in a terrible light that it does not deserve.”
There was more.
“And I’m not talking about the flag,” Schneider said. “I’m talking about ‘The Dukes of Hazzard.’ I know ‘The Dukes of Hazzard.’ I love ‘The Dukes of Hazzard.’ I know a lot of people out there do as well.”
In closing, Schneider asked viewers spend time “praying for the families and loving one another, not doing all this other stuff.”
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.”
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.”
Against such arguments stood no less an organization than the NAACP.
“We consider the Confederate flag to be a symbol of hatred,” Los Angeles NAACP President Geraldine Washington said in the 2001 “Dukes” documentary. “It’s a symbol of division and disharmony rather than being a symbol that brings people together.”
Correction: A previous version of this post referred to Ben Jones as a “a former Republican congressman from Georgia.” He was a Democrat.