“Dukes of Hazzard” star and former Rep. Ben Jones (D-GA) said on Monday during an appearance on MSNBC that Confederate flag license plates are part of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for America.
Appearing on “Live with Thomas Roberts,” Jones discussed a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the constitutionality of a Texas ban on the use of Confederate flag license plates was being argued.
Jones, who played the role of Cooter on “Dukes of Hazzard,” serves as the chief of heritage operations for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the group that brought the case and which has argued the Texas ban violates the First Amendment.
Jones said the choice to use the license plate was a “personal decision” and he emphasized his belief that the Supreme Court would uphold a lower court’s ruling in favor of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Jones pointed out that “slavery was the national sin not the Southern sin” and noted that the Confederate flag “represents to us a very positive thing.”
The show’s host, Thomas Roberts, raised the argument that if the Confederate flag was a symbol of the national sin of slavery, people should unify in our condemnation of it.
“I think the more important unification would come to bury the past, to forgive each other and to do what Dr. King suggested,” Jones said. “His dream was that someday on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves, the sons of former slave owners would be able to dine together at the table of brotherhood. He did not put any asterisk on that. I was in the civil rights movement, that was not an issue.”
Roberts countered by asking Jones how it was possible to “bury the past” if you see a car “flaunting” this symbol of slavery.
“It was the flag of the soldiers not the government anyway,” Jones said. “The guys who were out there fighting and they were of all kinds. There were a lot of different races. There were Jewish confederates and Hispanic confederates and American Indian confederates. And there were black confederates. So it’s a complex issue. We’re talking about our ancestors. All of them — for us Southerners. And, and, Dr. King wanted to bring people together. To forgive all those things and to build a future together. And we’ve done that in the South.”
“These attacks are divisive,” Jones said. “The very thing that we were fighting against. We want to build bridges — with everybody. We love black folks. We want to sit down and eat with them, talk about these issues. But the confederacy is under attack and I think that’s unfair and it’s insulting.”
Jones also stressed that context must be considered and that when the Confederate flag is seen “on a license plates (sic), it is people honoring their ancestors.”