Tuesday on CNN’s Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield, former Rep. Ben Jones (D-GA), who also was the actor who played Cooter on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” got into a heated exchange with Banfield over the Confederate flag and white supremacy.
Jones pointed out that slavery was not just a “Southern sin,” and said “segregation and white supremacy and all of that nonsense — we’ve come through that:”
Slavery was a terrible thing but it existed in every state in the Union and all of the Colonies and it existed under the American flag from 1776 until 1856 and we remember from Lincoln’s first Inaugural Address, where he said let’s keep in the perpetuity, I guarantee its constitutionality,” he said. “So it’s a much more complicated issue. Slavery was hard. It existed everywhere and it was a terrible thing, We’re not here talking about slavery, we’re talking about the flag of our people — they weren’t defending slavery. Most of them had no slaves. The vast majority. They saw it as a country being invaded invaded. They thought they had the constitutional right to secede. Where did it stay say they didn’t?
They made that move, they were invaded. They fought very hard for four years, as bravely as any army ever. The South was destroyed, devastated with nothing, 6 million white people, 4 million newly freed slaves with nothing. When Lincoln was asked, ‘What are the slaves going do?’ He said they’ll have to root, hog, or die. That was true of everybody. The South had been destroyed and through all of that, through all of those resentments, through all of that segregation and white supremacy and all of that nonsense we’ve come through that.
That was too much for Banfield to stomach, as she told Jones, “I’m going to jump in there. White supremacy is not nonsense. Sir. I’m sorry, white supremacy is not nonsense. It just not even a week ago led to the mortal combat murders of nine innocent church-goers.
Jones replied, “I just said it’s not a Southern sin. White supremacy is a sickness that goes on all over the world. This man doesn’t represent us,” adding that 70 million people descended from the Confederacy and “y’all can’t define us by the act of a demented hater.”
Pointing to herself, Banfield said she wasn’t defining anyone, but that she thought the “evolution of thinking among the people, all the people, might be doing the defining, not me.”
A perturbed Jones shot back,”Excuse me, are you saying my thinking isn’t evolving? Is that what you’re saying?
Jones also took to Facebook yesterday stating that he won’t stop selling Confederate flags on his website:
TO ALL OF OUR FRIENDS AND FANS FROM BEN JONES AKA “COOTER”
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.”
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.
OUR BELOVED SYMBOL IS NOW BEING ATTACKED IN A WAVE OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS THAT IS UNPRECEDENTED IN OUR NATION OF FREE SPEECH AND FREE EXPRESSION. ACTIVISTS AND POLITICIANS ARE VILIFYING SOUTHERN CULTURE AND OUR HERITAGE AS BEING BIGOTED AND RACIST. WE KNOW THAT THIS IS NOT THE CASE. AND WE KNOW THAT IN HAZZARD COUNTY THERE WAS NEVER ANY RACISM.
THOUGH THE FLAG HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM SUCH PLACES AS WALMART, TARGET AND AMAZON, IT WILL NEVER BE REMOVED FROM ANY OF OUR COOTER’S STORES AND MUSEUMS. WE ARE ALL THE SAME GOOD PEOPLE TODAY THAT WE WERE LAST WEEK AND LAST YEAR AND WE ARE NOT GOING TO BE SHAMED INTO TURNING OUR BACKS ON OUR HERITAGE AND OUR CONVICTIONS.
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.
WHEN WE SAY OUR FLAG STANDS FOR “HERITAGE, NOT HATE” AND “PRIDE, NOT PREJUDICE”, WE MEAN IT. AND WE BELIEVE THAT OLD SAYING, “YOU CAN’T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING IF YOU FORGET WHERE YOU CAME FROM.”
COOTER’S IS GOING TO CONTINUE TO SELL OUR SOUTHERN SYMBOLS AS LONG AS THERE IS A COOTER’S. I WILL FIGHT THESE PEOPLE UNTIL HELL FREEZES OVER, AND THEN I WILL FIGHT THEM ON THE ICE.
The fight over the Confederate flag has reached ridiculous proportions, with calls now to remove statues of those with any links to the Confederacy as well as renaming schools that were named for Confederate heroes. As someone born north of the Mason-Dixon line, I have no particular affinity for the South and it’s heritage, but as Jones said, all of this is “cultural genocide” and that’s bad for every American.