A long-simmering controversy over the 1969 Dodge Charger from the Dukes of Hazzard TV series, the “General Lee,” hit Toronto this past weekend when a visitor to a festival’s car show took offence to a replica car with Confederate flag decals on the roof and front licence plate.
Scarborough resident Ybia Anderson was attending the 32nd annual Highland Creek Heritage Festival on June 17 when she saw the replica General Lee and approached festival staff asking to have it removed from the event’s car show, calling out the flags stickered on the car as hate symbols.
In a video she posted to Facebook, Anderson can be seen arguing with someone claiming to be a friend of the owner of the car, and petitioning a festival volunteer to have the car out of the show within an hour.
Anderson, the owner’s friend, and the organizers eventually went their separate ways, while the car remained, reports Inside Toronto.
Festival organizers took to Facebook to explain they were unaware of the car’s invitation or to the reaction it might’ve sparked. “Hate deserves no place anywhere in our hearts, much less in a family festival,” wrote Paul Maguire, the event’s chair.
“[The] offending symbol was present without the committee’s foreknowledge,” he went on, adding the organizing committee would “resolve to strive for greater sensitivity and preparation in the future.”
Toronto mayor John Tory also attended the festival Saturday but says he did not see the car; on June 19, he, too, decried the Confederate flags’ representation at the festival in front of reporters at city hall.
The General Lee is one of the most well-known cars in pop culture, but a surging rejection of the Confederate flag – now widely shouted down as a racist symbol – has seen it mired more and more often in controversy recently, since the Charger famously wears the flag on its roof.
A proper Dukes of Hazzard replica is arguably incomplete or inaccurate without it, and dozens of flag-toting examples exist across Canada and the U.S. and get shown without issue.
On the other hand, Warner Bros., owners of the TV series’ rights, decided in 2015 it would no longer sell Hazzard merchandise with the flag on it, including scale models of the General Lee. Top professional golfer Bubba Watson also famously decided to paint over the Confederate flag on the top of his General Lee Dodge Charger, which was not a replica but one of the original cars from the TV series. He replaced it with an American flag.