Symbols of the Confederacy are coming down across America — but not on The Dukes of Hazzard.
The stars of the ’80s hit are speaking out in defense of their show and its iconic car the General Lee, which famously had a Confederate flag emblazoned on its roof, as Black Lives Matter activists call for Confederate flags and statues to be removed nationwide. “I have never had an African American come up to me and have any problem with it whatsoever,” John Schneider, who played Bo Duke on the CBS series, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The whole politically correct generation has gotten way out of hand.”
Schneider’s co-star Tom Wopat, who played Bo’s cousin Luke Duke, acknowledges that “the situation in the country has obviously changed in the last 40 years,” adding that “I feel fortunate to be living in a time when we can address some of the injustices of the past.” But he stresses that “the car is innocent.”
“Dukes of Hazzard was a unifying force,” Schneider adds. “Mom, grandma, everyone wanted to watch it together. But who benefits from division?… The Dukes of Hazzard has been shot down, I believe unfairly.”
Series creator Gy Waldron says he does “wholeheartedly support the Black Lives Matter movement and its quest to address racism around the world,” but insists that at the time, “no one even connected the Confederate flag with slavery. It was simply a part of our Southern culture.”
The 1979-85 series, which became a top-10 ratings hit for CBS, was popular in syndication and got picked up by TV Land in 2015. But the cable network dropped Dukes later that year in the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting by Dylann Roof, who posted messages supporting white supremacy and the Confederate flag prior to the shooting.