What to do about the General Lee?

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1969 Dodge Charger known as the General Lee | Photography by Hans Marquez

One of the most iconic images of the Confederate flag sits atop the equally iconic car from the popular TV series, The Dukes of Hazzard. The car in the show known as the General Lee, a 1969 Dodge Charger driven by fictional characters Bo and Luke Duke, is under fire and being defaced by some due to current controversies surrounding the Confederate flag.

Many stores have stopped or say they will stop selling the flag and merchandise showing Confederate imagery, including General Lee toys and models with the flag. According to Amazon,  this has only made prices dramatically increase for General Lee merchandise showing the flag.

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This tribute features many small details that appeared in the show at various points

Professional golfer Bubba Watson, who bought one of the original General Lee  Chargers used in the show which ran from 1979 to 1985, and was followed by several spinoffs including a 2005 movie, has announced he will replace the Confederate flag on the car’s roof with  an American flag.

I had the opportunity to chat with someone from Scottsdale, Arizona, who owns a tribute copy of the General Lee. He told me that he and his wife bought the car because it reminded them of when they were kids, growing up and watching the television show.

Since buying the car they have put in hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in restoring it, sparing no expense when it came to the small details, such as a year-correct license plate and multiple Hazzard County stickers.

Prior to the recent controversy, the car was a show stopper with all sorts of people from all over the world wanting to take photos with the iconic car.

Since the uproar, the car’s owner has been hesitant to take it out, though on the few occasions he has, the General Lee has backed up traffic because of people stopping to take photos of it and with dozens of people surrounding it for as long as it was parked. The owner says he has heard no negative comments. People of a variety of backgrounds have made numerous comments with the message being universally clear: “Don’t take the flag off the car.”

It can be argued that the General Lee is a piece of American cultural history,  an artifact. Some might say that replacing the Confederate flag would be  an act of vandalism on an antique.  Changing the iconic image would essentially  erase that moment in history.

As I see it, the issue is not specifically about the flag and about what it means in today’s society, it’s about preserving the General Lee. Removing any part of the car is like taking the bat logo off the Batmobile. Any change made to the General Lee and it won’t be the General Lee anymore.

Years from now, people who grew up watching the Dukes of Hazzard or who watched the reruns will want the look of the original vehicle used in their favorite show as it remains in their memory, not as it may have been defaced.

The General Lee clone owner I met believes that preserving the car will result in the value of the car increasing significantly over the next few years, as it will be seen as being unmolested.

The General Lee is not about racism or Southern separatism but rather a light-hearted poke at the good ole boys.  Removing its Confederate flag proves nothing except that we can mindlessly deface a piece of our collective pop-culture past and render it meaningless.

41 thoughts on “What to do about the General Lee?”

  1. It’s a part of tv history.Like the truck from Beverly Hillbilly’s
    Does that mean,all people from the south are like them .No .Get over it you whiners.What about “All in the Family”,it’s still on

  2. You do note let those insane PC nut jobs destroy this car. If you do then they will target more things that are americas past,,i call them the new american taliban ,m,you have to draw the line some where..this car was never intended to symbolize slavery or racism.

  3. Just wondering if next they won’t allow Swasticas on German vehicles in WW2 movies. It is too bad that a certain racist and hateful element has drawn negative attention to the Confederate flag by using it as a symbol of their fanaticism.

  4. Should we destroy the Washington,and Jefferson monuments,because they were slave owners ?.Or redesign our money without their faces.Blow up General Cluster’s statue,he was killing native Americans?

  5. I’m really glad a white person wrote this because, you know, perspective and all. I wonder if anyone posting their outrage here is black?

  6. To answer Dave Hall who asks about “Swasticas” on German vehicles, the European Union banned swastikas years ago…..you cannot sell model aircraft or any other depiction of a swastika in Europe. They take the horrors of war, torture, slavery, forced labor etc. seriously. The “Confederate flag” IS a sign of racism, a representative of slavery, forced labor and everything else said about it, including this: please show me any other country in the world which allows a flag of treasonous rebels to be flown post-defeat. Please. So let this go. It’s a TV SHOW for God’s sake.And a not very good one at that.

  7. WELL LOOKIE HERE ! The More Prudent Choice Would be to SELL Him to the Petersen Automobile Museum in Los Angeles, Calif. This would Solve any grief from others that would Attempt to Ruin, Steal or Discredit the General Lees’ Ownership . The More $$ Greedy $$ Thing to do with the Esteemed General Automobile is Place Him on an Independent Auction Block and see How Much People may pay to Own the Legendary T.V. Show Vehicle. ( Sorta’ like the Batmobile, The Green Hornets’ Dodge Polara,The Ivory CORD used in Remington Steel, Any of George Barris Inc. Autos…. The Munsters’ Hearse, Grandpa Munsters’ Coffin /casket racer, the Black Pontiac Firebird from Night Rider (a real Geek favourite ), The Lotus G.T. from the Prisoner,James Bonds’ Aston Martin DB 5, etc., etc., etc.

  8. The real reason for the Civil War was economics not slavery! The South’s cotton was getting more money from France than from the North’s textile industries and not only that there were thousands of slaves in the North as far as the state of Wisconsin. Not to mention many who were white slaves AKA “indentured servants”!ya

  9. too spirit, a country that flies it’s flag post defeat is JAPAN!! white field with a red disc or known as a meatball

  10. To the commentor “Spirit”… How dare you to claim that the South was “treasonous”. You obviously don’t know anything about history. At the time of the war the US Constitution allowed both slavery and cession were either allowed or not explicitly denied. The Union lead by Lincoln decided to not allow cession and to fight to deny the South that right… so how could you possibly call the South “TREASONOUS”?

    Don’t get me wrong, at this point in our history I am happy that Lincoln held the US union together. I am proud that we are one nation without slavery. At the same time I am proud of my SOUTHERN heritage and feel all Americans should be allowed to freely express their cultural heritage. What other culture in this country is not allowed that right??? Not Muslims, Irish, Jewish, or Blacks; so why deny Southerns? To celebrate your culture does not mean you celebrate you cultures misdeeds. The North has many Civil War atrocities that I would hope you do not celebrate, but you are certainly free and welcome to celebrate your Yankee heritage…. Leave the South alone you PC over-reactor.

  11. As horrible as it was for that psychopath to walk into that church and kill those people is terrible, but the Alabama flag did not kill those folks. My great grandfather fought and died in the Civil War . South Carolina Governor Niki Haley caved to the political pressure of the few and should be voted out of office for her stupidity and ignorance!! Stop with the nonsense and stop treading on the Southern Heritage of the Confederate States of America! Good or bad the Flag of the confederate states has a Right to fly at the state house as our symbol of pride, honor and Heritage!

  12. Confederate imagery is how you look at it. To some just another thing to corrupt.

  13. Here’s my two cents worth. Since some African Americans, our current President and the Hollywood Political Correct Crowd insist that the flag is and was about Slavery, oppression and racism therefore it needs to be banned from any and all things.

    I ask this; what is next? The color RED??? or are “PC crowd going to fixate their hatred on something else that offends them, like say Muscle Cars or the symbol on BMW’s do they know what that stands for? Personally I find the Political Correct Crowd offensive, but we’re not allowed to remove them from our History books, our past and now our future. Why is that???

    How about this instead, let’s start banning Ghetto Rap Music, they use the “N” word liberally and refer to women as Bitches, but that’s okay, since its written by you know who…

  14. This is just another piece of America being stolen from our American Brothers and Sisters in the South, I say fly any flag you want with pride, and if someone doesn’t like it, we’ll don’t look at it, you are Free in this country to do as you wish, live and let live and be free to look at a flag of your choice.

  15. I don’t know why, but I’m always stunned by the lack of knowledge, the poor understanding of history, the dogmatic posture, and unbridled racist comments made by trolls on “the Internet.” Notice how the people with something intelligent to say actually use their names? They have a differing opinion, but at least they have the courage to take a position of their own. (Get it, “Proud of My Southern Heritage?”)

    Anyway, if the owner of a General Lee Charger is uncomfortable with the car as it is, he or she should sell it. (At the right price, I’d buy it!) Changing the car would mean it is no longer a General Lee. It would be just an orange Charger with some graphics.

    To try to eradicate the Confederate battle flag from every nook and cranny is a fool’s errand. It’s one thing to remove it as a display on government property, (a proper position in my opinion) and another to try to erase it from our memory (akin to trying to erase slavery from our memory.)

    Leave the General Lee as it is. No one is offended by the car. As an enthusiast and a Black man, I appreciate the car for what it is. (And I know many Black people of the same opinion.) Most of us find “The Dukes of Hazard” TV show an offense to anyone’s sensibilities. But the car is cool!

  16. As a northener I appreciate the historical element of the “bars and stars” and the sacrifice of some really honorable people that sought to preserve there way of life. The political correct elements that have to find someone or something to blame for the actions of one idiot. My family has collected vehicles for over 50 years and I would welcome the “General Lee”…..bars and stars included. For all the whiners out there……GET A PULSE!!!!!!!!!

  17. My god, PC has gone too far!! That flag is a good reminder of the progression the U.S. Has made to become what it is today! History is exactly that, keep it how it was so future generations can learn from it! Anyone who thinks it stands for racism needs a history lesson! And the PC morons need to take it elsewhere!

  18. I will not replace the flag it needs to stay with the confederate flag. I am an African American man the rebel flag is American history leave it a loan

  19. I agree, LEAVE THE GENERAL ALONE! What is happening to freedom of speech? Where is Warner Bros. common sense and testicular fortitude? The flag adorning the General has been good enough for them to make money off of us since 1979, now they cave because of what people may think. What about what “I” think, and the countless others that think WB are sellouts? Even NASCAR had started asking people to keep the rebel flag away, which fans has kept it flying anyway. NASCAR wouldn’t even allow Bubba Watson to take a lap around the track in his LEE1 prior to a race because of the flag. Now even ol’ Bubba has sold out by proclaiming tat the American flag would now cover the Confederate flag atop his real Lee……simply ridiculous. If you’re scared of it, then sell it. I’ve owned a General Lee. It was a Charger that was left on WB lot after filming for the original show had stopped.Rich Sephton was a 2nd unit mechanic for the show, and had built a “wheel stander” General Lee with the motor in the back seat like a drag car. Had filming continued and his creation been used, it would’ve been a first unit car for the actors, and mine would’ve been a second unit version for the stuntmen. But it never got the chance to be a “real” General Lee. I was in newspapers, on the Atlanta news a couple of times, in magazines, and even got to film for the Travel Channel with Footer himself Ben Jones down on Covington for the “TV Road trips” special. I met all the stars and stuntmen, attended Dukes conventions, rode in parades, you name it. This was my proverbial 15 minutes of fame I suppose and I had a blast. My point to all of this is that I am a fan, I have met and talked with a lot of people of different races (which sounds funny to me, we are all just people) about the Dukes of Hazzard & the General Lee and never once did anyone criticize the flthatTo be more specific, there was dozens of black folks/African Americans over the years that posed with my car for pictures. Folks sat in the window and had a grin on their face just like kids. Nothing but compliments and friendly conversations anywhere from little kids to 70 year olds.

    I am not a racist. I don’t hate due to someone’s color. I am not a white supremacist nor am I affiliated with the kkk. I do dispise the fact that this beautiful flag is used by others to promote hatred and racism, but this is America, and that right is what we are supposed to be about. I have seen pics of the kkk carrying nothing but American flags, but you don’t see a ban on that flag do ya? Can you believe that the “band wagon jumpers” wants to change a street name in Atlanta because it says “Confederate Ave”? Or the folks up in arms over a school bearing the name ” Robert E. Lee”? And most insulting to me is for the hysterics to affect my childhood dream car, that beautiful orange hero car from Hazzard County, the General Lee. I do not intend to offend anyone with my flag, but I will not be bullied by political correctness, whether from an individual or the govt. You can’t blanket people as a whole, same stands for ideals and beliefs. I say concentrate on helping poor folks, and people that are stricken by tragedies. Turn your focus inward toward your heart instead of labeling with pointed fingers outwardly.

  20. Would crunching this car burning it, afterwards using it are a boat mooring for 100 years, publicly hanging anyone that has a confederate flag in a picture, Books, or image. Further ban a Dukes of hazzard or any other horrifying portrayal of this historical time.

    Should we, I mean really. This flag represents a historical time. What does this mean deep down to these people? It Seems to Portray a deep deep sad psychological issue here ? Some one wants to call me a racist, thats fine, but am I a racist or are you?

    Who are the ones that cannot forgive and forget? Should one be taught to fear the past or learn from it? It is my statement here that some people are not happy to make a change for the positive, Just make a change that eliminates any offence to anyone. I am very offended by the negative aspects of anytime period continually placed in a stirrer and thrown up.

    Peoples minds are really tilted in this was a atrocity what happened to these people flying a Confederate Flag. Where does anything end? The American flag represents a lot of bad things too as someone mentioned. Do we change it too??

  21. Want to know about honor..integrity..join me on Facebook at Robert E. Lee and Traveller

    The most honorable man in human history and his war horse Traveller.

    What’s next many if you ask…the NAACP wants to destroy the Confederate carving on Stone mountain in Georgia. Join us to help stop this insanity!!
    https://youtu.be/kT8yOtppTjA

  22. I think the answer should be to add to, not take away. None of this replacing statues or tearing down of monuments, but build tributes that accompanies the history of the Confederacy. Present the truth, of both sides. When you tell the whole story – both good and bad about the South, the war, about Lincoln owning slaves himself & not wanting to relinquish, but felt he had no choice, all the atrocities, all the sadness, all the honor & sacrifice ………that is fair, for everyone…… that is history.

  23. It’s like taking off the Apple logo from your Mac just because you don’t like apples. Duh…

  24. it is stupid that they are getting a rid of a car because of the flag like really that is history in two ways, one it is a 69 charger and two it was in a tv show that was great like dang just keep the flag on please

  25. It’s a part of life if you don’t like the flag stop breathing cause soon children wont be able to sing the pledge in class,and it’s sad because everyone just looks for publicity in the wrong way….this is what happens Forever the general Lee will live on car and history

  26. Come on people get with the program the confederate flag is not the issue its rebel part of the flag that’s the issue its millions of Americans Both young and old the wants to rebel against arthority this flag is are banner like in the great movie rebel with out a cause

  27. It’s just another step in “erasing America” so that whomever takes over can start with a clean slate.

  28. The General Lee has the Rebel flag because they are from the south. As far as I can remember, the Dukes never promoted any discrimination, in fact in a couple of shows they were against it. The flag is a part of our past, getting rid of it will not change the past, and it is an insult to people. Do not give in to those who fly their symbol of racism while they attack others history,

  29. As an African American I don’t have a problem with it cause it’s on a private vehicle and that’s your right to do with your property. I do not feel it’s appropriate on a government building however and if you do lets put black panther flag above it. It’s also a part of our history.

  30. Well, in reading these comments there are a couple more things to take in to consideration. For one – Lee gave up his slaves before Lincoln, in fact Lincoln didn’t want to give up his slaves, but the war and political stance demanded it. People forget that the American flag flew over slaves too, it wasn’t just a southern thing. The second thing is where the question was asked “show me any other country in the world which allows a flag of treasonous rebels to be flown post-defeat. Please. ” It wasn’t that long ago in history that we rebelled against British rule. So now all of us treasonous rebels are called Americans & we call this country the greastest anywhere, imagine that.

    Now I am in no way supporting slavery or anything close to it, it was simply wrong. I can agree to the flags coming down from govt buildings, but not from civil war memorials or cemetaries, street signs, or from tv icons. How can you have Martin Luther King Blvd but complain about Confederate Ave in Atl?

    I think Warner Brothers sold out due to the “bandwagon” fever that swept across the land in response to a dumbass disturbed person making a wrong decision. It is a combination of political correctness, freedom of expression, & perception. Warner Brothers has had no problem raking in all the dough since 1979. We ‘made’ them, only to have them cave because of a firestorm of media surrounding that aweful event.

    That aside, YES to the flag staying on your house, on your car, on your shirts, that’s our right. We can’t help the fact that the KKK uses their rights to fly the flag for their beliefs. I will not surrender my freedom just because someone else uses it differently. I don’t use the confederate flag to impose hatred, I would absolutely never do that, but I will not be shrouded under a stereotypical blanket of judgement as a racist. Yes I’ve owned a General Lee, I have several rebel flags, a room full of Dukes of Hazzard collectibles, some civil war stuff, and even some confederate money, & I have never had any problems with African Americans anywhere. In fact, they were just as excited over my General as you’ve ever seen. Everyone wanted rides or pictures with it. The ages ranged from 4 to 76, it was awesome.

    For those who say “it’s just a tv show”- maybe for some, but for others it was an escape once a week from your problems, whether it be an alcoholic household, or just a silly fun adventure to look forward to, it gave us heros to look up to. It shaped a lot of our lives. Here I am 45 yrs old and still support it, and it matters to me. It’s the principle. So yeah, a big “YOU SUCK” to WB for not standing behind your own creation, and a big “YES” to the flag staying on the General Lee.

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