Why do people think the rebel flag's racist?
Like why would Walmart stop selling Confederate flags? Why would Warner Bros. stop producing even a toy "Dukes of Hazzard" car with the flag on it? Is it because the car's named the "General Lee" and the emblem looks like the rectangular Army of the Tennessee battle flag and not the square Army of Northern Virginia's?
No, it's because people think the rebel flag's racist, even on the "Dukes of Hazzard."
So, what did we miss? Did Bo and Luke shout racial slurs out the window at extras while running from the sheriff? Were they jumping a creek when the show freeze-framed and Waylon Jennings narrated: "Looks like them Dukes are in more trouble than a black man in the Jim Crow South"?
People ought to know the difference between an endorsement and a spoof of Southern culture like the "Dukes of Hazzard," or "Designing Women," or "Duck Dynasty."
And like some folks in South Carolina said last week, it's not like the flag represents racism. It symbolizes the Confederacy, and no evidence shows the Confederacy was based on preserving slavery or white supremacy.
Well, except for Georgia's articles of secession and Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens' "Cornerstone" speech.
The articles say Georgians might stay in the union were slavery protected, but "refuse to commit their own to the rulers whom the North offers us. Why? Because by their declared principles and policy they have outlawed $3,000,000,000 of our property in the common territories of the Union; because their avowed purpose is to subvert our society and subject us not only to the loss of our property but the destruction of ourselves, our wives, and our children, and the desolation of our homes, our altars, and our firesides."
Of the Confederacy, Stephens said "its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth."
But the Civil War is history, now. The problem today is the flag has become associated with extremist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and others outside the mainstream.
Well, except that in its 1920s heyday the Klan was mainstream, with up to 5 million members after its 1915 revival on Stone Mountain. And during the civil rights movement, the 1948 Dixiecrats pushing Strom Thurmond for president used the flag, and then Georgia added the emblem to its flag in 1956, and then George Wallace used it in his campaign against racial integration in the 1960s.
But that's just politics. It's not like everyday white Southerners who revered the flag were racists.
Well, except for the people who elected such leaders and enforced Jim Crow segregation in their homes, businesses, schools and buses. And the mobs who protested black children attending white schools.
But it's not like average folks joined in racial violence. Well, except for those who participated in the 1906 Atlanta race riots and the 1923 massacre in Rosewood, Fla., and those who posed for photos at public lynchings, and those who served on juries that acquitted whites of racially motivated murder.
But the flag itself still should adorn the graves of Confederate soldiers.
Well, as long as none show up on the graves of black World War II veterans who came home to find the rights they fought for denied them by people who used that flag -- people who so opposed even modest civil rights measures they split the Democratic Party, and people who killed black veterans for voting.
But that's all history, now, and that's beside the point. The point here is that the "Dukes of Hazzard" weren't racists, so their reruns should be back on TV, and Warner Bros. should let them have their toy car flag back.
The "Dukes of Hazzard" never hurt anyone.
Well, except Daisy's cutoffs broke my heart.
Tim Chitwood, firstname.lastname@example.org, 706-571-8508.