Former Rep. Ben Jones (D-GA), known for his role as “Cooter” in the “Dukes of Hazzard,” a television series that aired from 1979 to 1985 and featured the Confederate flag prominently, made an appearance on CNN Tuesday. The segment on the renewed debate over the Confederate flag quickly descended into a shouting match.
After playing the show’s “Good Ol’ Boys” theme song, CNN “Legal View” host Ashleigh Banfield asked Jones, who is also the chairman of the Sons of Confederate Veterans heritage operations, if the song has now “taken on different meaning.”
“Nothing has changed,” Jones responded.
“That show did have — prominently featured a Confederate battle flag in a very positive context, in a place where there was no racism,” he continued. “I know the world’s not like that, but you must understand that that flag has been seen and is now seen also in positive contexts. It’s been used by racists, by horrible people such as this man who killed those people in Charleston — terrible thing. I’m sure he’s also used the American flag.”
Jones told Banfield that while he understands that the flag offends some people, he believes it simply represents his ancestry. He noted that the South has made progress when it comes to race, and claimed that people “project” the history of slavery in America onto the South and the symbol of the Confederate flag.
“Through all of that, through all of those resentments, through all of that segregation, and white supremacy and all that nonsense, we’ve come through that,” Jones said after noting that the South was destroyed by the Civil War. “We’re not here to offend anybody.”
Banfield then jumped in to say, “White supremacy is not nonsense. It just, not even a week ago, led to the mortal combat murders of nine innocent churchgoers.”
As she tried to end the segment, Jones cut in to defend the flag again and distance himself from the suspect in the Charleston shooting.
“It’s not a Southern sin. White supremacy is a sin. Racism is a sickness that goes on all over the world. This man doesn’t represent us,” he said. “No one thinks it was not a terrible, horrible thing.”
Jones said that we should not be “making major historic decisions” now.
“Well, maybe these are the times,” Banfield responded.
“Y’all can’t define us by the act of a demented hater. It doesn’t connect,” Jones hit back.
“I’m not defining you, Congressman. I think evolution of thinking among the people — all the people — might be doing the defining, not me,” Banfield said in return before cutting Jones off to end the segment.
Watch part of their exchange below: