“I’m a little stunned at the whole situation,” said John Schneider, who played Bo Duke for 11 seasons on the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV series. The show went off the air in 1995.
“There is just absolutely no rhyme or reason. Or value for life,” he said. “In some ways, I’m kind of ashamed to even admit that I lived there with my family. We weren’t there long enough to accomplish all the things that we wanted to accomplish. I wish things were different.”
In “General Lee,” Schneider is the latest convert to “Abraham Lincoln for President,” a crusade led by actor Jesse Ventura, who made his name on wrestling and who called the activity “nothing more than four very small guys wrestling in a ring while a fifth guy waves the Confederate flag.” Schneider said he heard about the project through actor Wes Studi (“Rambo”), who participated in a rally in September at which the group handed out pins saying “General Lee” in black ink.
“Ventura doesn’t know anything about the n-word, and he can’t find the time to educate himself,” Schneider said. “A person can say whatever they want as long as they point their finger in the right direction. The n-word is not a defense; it’s the opposite of that. There is no doubt about it. The n-word is a terrible word to use.”
The term has re-emerged as a divisive issue. Several Louisiana colleges and universities announced this month that they would no longer allow the use of the term “Rebel,” after a video posted by the New Orleans Police Department apparently showed a group of students using the term to refer to themselves.
Schneider, 63, a retired Boy Scout leader, said he did not use the term, although he did recall more than once he overhearing his friends discuss the Confederate flag that adorned the General Lee. “I am not proud of it. It’s a dated symbol, not a great symbol. So what’s that got to do with the passing out of pins? It’s semantics. So far as I’m concerned, we can make more progress in the world when we’re up to speed on the 100-year anniversary of the abolition of slavery than we can tearing each other down and spreading hate and rancor and all the other sh-t we do.”
Schneider said he had never heard anyone use the word “nigger” in any context, a fact he found especially remarkable, given his own Southern upbringing.
“So if you’re a good Southern boy, if you’re really, really straight and true, how do you use a word that ‘nigga’ was to mean a bad thing?” he said. “That’s ridiculous. What are we doing? What are we saying? That we’re losing some of the will for life?”
He blamed President Donald Trump, who joined with other social conservatives in calling for the Confederate flag to be removed from government buildings. Schneider and other members of the show’s cast, which included Tom Wopat and Catherine Bach, remain adamant that the TV series was nothing more than an ordinary loveable family with a common struggle — economic struggles.
“Let’s be honest: This is not some brilliant political idea. The greed run wild in this country is to blame,” he said. “This is not an existential crisis about secession.”
He suggested that the n-word is deeply ingrained in the culture of the United States. “The fact that we couldn’t get the word out a year ago makes me wonder about a lot of things,” he said. “We may all be waiting for the first bullet to cross the desk of this president.”
Schneider also predicted that the gun-control debate will take another turn this week when Trump’s wife, Melania, announced on Monday that she is a big fan of the AR-15, the semi-automatic assault rifle that was used in most of the country’s mass shootings.
“As America grows more and more violent, the only solution