Editorial: Cooter: common sense contrarian

Unlike Sigmund Freud’s legendary cigar, a flag is never just a flag – especially the Confederate battle flag. Just ask Harris Hollow resident and “Dukes of Hazzard” TV star Ben “Cooter” Jones.

Last week rumors swirled on the Internet that, starting in January, Warner Brothers (which holds the license for all “Dukes of Hazzard” merchandise) would no longer allow the signature Confederate flag likeness to be emblazoned on the top of General Lee cars.

A Warner spokesperson quickly disavowed the rumor and told NBC News: “We were not, and are not, planning to change the design of the General Lee on merchandise. All reports to the contrary have been inaccurate.”

According to Jones, however, Warner Brothers “backed down only after a very pointed and large reaction.” He cited an Internet poll that showed 16,000 votes for keeping the flag and fewer than 1,600 for removing it. In addition, he said, Warner Brothers “got flooded with thousands of emails and phone calls supporting the flag.”

In Cooter’s opinion, the result was a rare victory against “politically correct” corporations afraid of “possibly offending someone somewhere.” But in reality, he says, they insult African-Americans and others “by assuming they can’t discern the context in which such symbols are being used . . . the difference between the flag in a museum or on an historic battlefield, or in a happy, positive family TV show, or when it is being used by, say, the KKK.”

As we’re reminded all too often in this presidential election season, the contest is all about “who controls the narrative,” as the political pundits put it. In the narrative of the Confederate battle flag, is it representative of a complex story about American history or simply a post-Civil-War symbol of racism and hate?

The people who see it only as the latter, no more, no less, don’t care about historical facts or details that will not conform to their preconceived narrative. It’s the very same psychological, groupthink phenomenon that allows people to deny climate change. Their convenient narrative is of a government conspiracy always trying to create ever more environmental regulations; scientific facts thus cannot be true since they are just part of this conspiracy.

In the “Dukes of Hazzard” flag dust-up at least, “common sense prevailed,” in Cooter’s summation. “That’s amazing!”

Walter Nicklin