With debates about the Confederate flag and other imagery associated with the Civil War in the headlines, the stars and creator of The Dukes of Hazzard have spoken out in defense of the TV show's iconic 1969 Dodge Charger. The car is named the General Lee after Robert E. Lee and has the Confederate battle flag on its roof.
"I have never had an African-American come up to me and have any problem with it whatsoever," John Schneider, the actor behind Bo Duke and a country music artist, told Today, adding that "the whole politically correct generation has gotten way out of hand."
Co-star Tom Wopat (Luke Duke) champions discussions about racism while defending the series' use of Confederate imagery.
"The situation in the country has obviously changed in the last 40 years. I feel fortunate to be living in a time when we can address some of the injustices of the past," Wopat told Today. "But the car is innocent."
Today also interviewed show creator Gy Waldron, a Kentucky native who spoke positively about the the Black Lives Matter movement "and its quest to address racism around the world." Yet Waldron sees a controversial piece of history banned from NASCAR races and removed from the Mississippi state flag as benign.
"I had relatives fight on both sides of the Civil War and we honored both the American and Confederate flags," said Waldron. "No one even connected the Confederate flag with slavery. It was simply a part of our Southern culture."
The Dukes of Hazzard ran on CBS from 1979 to 1985. It was based in fictitious Hazzard County, Georgia and starred Schneider, Wopat, Ben Jones (Cooter) and Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke). A 2005 Hollywood film based on the TV series also used the General Lee's polarizing paint job.
The General Lee caused TV Land to pull all reruns in June 2015. Around that same time, Warner Brothers stopped selling products displaying the Confederate flag, including Dukes of Hazzard collectibles.