GREENVILLE, S.C. - Sen. Ted Cruz said Saturday that it is "asinine" that TV Land pulled "The Dukes of Hazzard" after widespread calls for the Confederate flag to come down.
"I think the cancellation of 'The Dukes of Hazzard' is utterly asinine and an example of corporate America’s embrace of political correctness to a degree that is ridiculous," Cruz said in an interview with The Washington Post.
"I’m curious if the Torquemadas seeking to ban 'The Dukes of Hazzard' from our TV sets are equally exercised by all of the leftist college students with posters of Che Guevara in their college dorm rooms," Cruz said, referring to Tomas de Torquemada, who served as the first grand inquisitor of Spain.
Cruz visited South Carolina for the first time since Gov. Nikki Haley (R) called for the removal of the Confederate flag from near the state capitol in the wake of of the shooting deaths of nine people at a historic African American church in Charleston. Photos have surfaced of the alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, posing with the Confederate flag. Since then, a backlash has grown against the flag, with Alabama removing it from its state capitol and retailers pulling merchandise that displays the banner.
Two of Cruz's campaign co-chairs, South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright and state Rep. Bill Chumley, have said that they will fight to keep the flag at a state house memorial.
The Texas Republican said that he has not spoken to Bright and Chumley; Cruz's campaign said last month they are going to "stand by" Bright and Chumley.
Bright likened the removal of the flag to a "Stalinist purge."
"It’s not just the flag,” Bright said in an interview with Politico last month. “They want to take down the Confederate monuments; I’ve gotten e-mails from people who want to rename streets. … Anytime you want to basically remove the symbols of history from a state, that’s something that just is very bad."
Chumley said on CNN last month that the people killed in the church "waited their turn to be shot."
"We need to be focusing on the nine families that are left and see that this doesn't happen again," he said. "These people sat in there and waited their turn to be shot. That's sad that somebody in there with the means of self-defense could have stopped this."
Cruz said, as he did in an interview with The Washington Post last month, that the issue of the Confederate flag is one for South Carolina to decide.
"I understand this is an issue and debate that evokes strong emotions. I understand those who see in the flag remembrances of our nation’s shameful legacy of slavery and bigotry and hatred and oppression. I also understand those who see in the flag a recognition of their ancestor’s sacrifices and our history and traditions separate and apart from the horrors of slavery," Cruz said Saturday.
"The issue should be decided by South Carolinians, not by those from other states parachuting in to lecture the citizens on how to resolve this question of state law," Cruz said. "That’s the way our federalist system is supposed to work."
Cruz said the decision of Wal-Mart and other retailers to stop selling Confederate flag merchandise is theirs to make.
"I think that is a decision for each company and each individual in our free market to make. I believe in free speech. Free speech means that each of us can choose what to say and what not to say," he said.
Cruz said Guevara was "a sick, murderous, torturing, tyrant. And yet in the bizarro world that is modern political correctness, because he’s a leftist, Che Guevara, like Chairman Mao on their kitschy little watches, is to be celebrated and glorified with no recognition of the thousands or even millions of souls tortured and murdered at their hands."