- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 26, 2002

Is being "just a good ol' boy" the equivalent of being a racist? Former Democratic Rep. Ben Jones Cooter from the hit 1980s TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard" has been tarred with that brush as he mounts a new campaign for a House seat outside Richmond. And it's not because of the grimy wife-beater T-shirt he wore in the show, but because of the car he drives.
Mr. Jones has made appearances with the souped-up, bright-orange, 1969 Dodge Charger from the TV show the General Lee which in addition to its day-glow hue has a huge Confederate flag painted on the roof. Mr. Jones, a liberal Democrat who was actively involved (on the right side) in the 1960s civil rights movement, and who has strong support from minority constituents, has been attacked by members of his own party for "insensitivity," and for making an implicit appeal to bigots. Former Gov. Doug Wilder wrote that Mr. Jones is "using his flying of a Confederate flag as a campaign strategy" and that the use of the General Lee is "of great concern to the broad body of responsible Virginians." Mr. Jones, for his part, sees no evil in the use of the General Lee as a campaign prop, or of the Confederate flag on its roof as a symbol of evil. It is "ridiculous," he said, to confuse Southern pride with racism. "I think Stonewall Jackson was a heroic figure. I think Martin Luther King was the greatest man I ever met. I don't see any conflict in having those thoughts, frankly," he told The Washington Post.
No one else ought to, either. Just as there weren't communists under every bed in the 1950s, neither is every Southerner (or Southern image) an homage to racism. Anyone who feigns indignation at the family friendly and absolutely non-racial "Dukes of Hazzard" and its mascot, the General Lee, is seeking bogeymen where none exist.

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