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‘Dukes of Hazzard’ reruns pulled from TV Land network

Channel gives no reason but pulls comedy amid controversy over Confederate flag, which adorns car used in show

The cable channel TV Land pulled reruns of the decades-old TV comedy "The Dukes of Hazzard" from its lineup this week.

It could be the latest move by a corporation to distance itself from the Confederate battle flag, which appears atop one of the show’s stars: a 1969 Dodge Charger nicknamed the General Lee, after the commander of the Confederate army. 

The show's removal from the channel, according to a New York Post report, is part of a backlash against depictions of the Confederate flag in the wake of a mass shooting that killed nine people at a historic black church on June 17 in Charleston, South Carolina. The alleged killer, Dylann Roof, 21, appeared to revere the flag in photos posted online.

Amazon, Apple, Walmart and eBay have banned sales of the flag and products featuring it, and the U.S. National Park Service has encouraged the stores it oversees — mostly at Civil War battlefields — to pull products without any educational value that feature the image, such as belt buckles.  

For DeRay Mckesson, a rights activist and a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement, stopping the reruns was an important step.

"Symbols of hate empower hate," Mckesson told Al Jazeera. "It's long past due that we treat this symbol as we treat other symbols of hate. It belongs on the History Channel and not TV Land." 

TV Land — owned by media conglomerate Viacom, which also operates MTV and Comedy Central — did not immediately respond to a request for comment or say why it was pulling the show, which it had been running two times a day. The series originally aired from 1979 to 1985.

A representative for the channel Country Music Television, which is also owned by Viacom, still airs episodes of the program, according to ABC.

Ben Jones, an actor-turned-politician who regularly appeared on the show and now serves as the president of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, expressed dismay at the show’s being yanked. He said it is part of a “cultural cleansing” and the erasure of his ancestors who fought for the South, not the emblem held up by white supremacist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. 

“It makes me feel concerned for the future of America,” said Jones, who was a Democratic representative from Georgia from 1989 to 1993. Differences of opinion, he said, are “being removed unilaterally by invisible corporate moguls.” 

He encouraged fans of the show to boycott not only Viacom channels but also their advertisers.

Jones played Cooter, a mischievous mechanic who joined the antics of the Duke cousins Bo and Luke in fictional Hazzard County, Georgia. The young men used the General Lee to run moonshine and evade the corrupt local sheriff.

Although the principal characters are white, Jones said that the series is “beloved by people of all races” and that there were several recurring African-American characters.

“There was no racism in Hazzard County,” he said. “We just didn’t make an issue out of race. It was the most nonracist show. It was color blind."

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