How ‘The General Lee’ was left in the Democratic Party’s dust

Former Rep. Ben L. Jones’ journey from civil rights Democrat to Confederate flag champion

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Posted September 25, 2020 at 7:00am

President Donald Trump may be calling for “patriotic education,” but plenty of Americans already cherish a sanitized version of U.S. history. Even a former Democratic congressman proudly lives in a world that eschews the history of the Confederate flag.

In a field in rural Virginia this month, country singer Whey Jennings sang for an enthusiastic crowd his grandfather’s hit “Good Ol’ Boys,” the theme song to the show “The Dukes of Hazzard.” To his right sat a cast member from the show, former Georgia Democratic Rep. Ben “Cooter” Jones, who owns and operates the adjacent Cooter’s, a folksy museum dedicated to his 1979 hit show. The museum’s main attraction is “The General Lee,” the show’s iconic car, complete with its controversial Confederate flag roof.

Jones remains firm in his long-standing support of what he calls the rebel flag, despite its association with hate groups. As a former Democratic congressman, there’s a lot of daylight between him and his civil rights roots. Watch the video for more.

From left, former Georgia Rep. Ben L. Jones, center, performs at his birthday celebration at Cooter’s Place in Luray, Va., on Sept. 5, along with his wife, Alma Viator, and, from right, Nuke Bushner and Whey Jennings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)