In the newest round of pilers on to the ex post facto Confederate Flag outrage, pro-golfer Bubba Watson has announced that he will deface a significant piece of The Dukes of Hazzard memorabilia that he owns post-haste, because he truly believes all persons are equal and this action will absolve him of historical guilt:
Ostensibly to coincide with his newly developed sensibilities to which he hadn’t yet evolved prior to purchasing the vintage 1969 Dodge Charger in 2012, this repainting will cure all inequality.
How wonderful. If we are to take the change of heart on its face, better late than never I suppose.
But it raises the question: Why not sell a prominent part of such an integral piece of Americana, rather than defacing it?
Anyone who has watched a single episode of a show like the History Channel’s Pawn Stars knows that to alter memorabilia in such a way significantly devalues the piece in question. Knives and guns that would have been worth thousands are reduced to mere tens or hundreds of dollars because of modifications and alterations done by current or previous owners to all kinds of historical artifacts.
Bubba is taking a piece of history he owns for now and changing its cultural value by removing the rooftop flag.
Whitewashing popular culture is on par with whitewashing history itself. As someone who has never watched an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard, I know most of the cultural references regardless: Daisy Duke short shorts, the Waylon Jennings theme song, the car known as “General Lee.” I even know how the song “Eastbound & Down” ties the TV show with the movie “Smokey and the Bandit” thanks to my Dad. That should make the case even stronger for how much The Dukes of Hazzard, and its memorabilia, are a part of American pop culture.
Someone needs to ask Bubba Watson what painting over the roof of such a well known piece of television history accomplishes exactly, besides assuaging the newfound guilt of a Masters champion.
Removing the Confederate flag, which until mid-June wasn’t seen as the worst thing in the world ever, does nothing to change any of the leftover hearts and minds that still engage in daily prejudice against other races.
Indeed, a multitude of companies, such as Amazon, have decided to discontinue sales, or reproduction of anything containing the “Stars and Bars” Confederate flag, but somehow these same companies still sell equally, if not worse, racially divisive items to this day. As of this posting Amazon still continues to sell actually racist items promoted by real racists, like ‘The Turner Diaries’ and South Africa’s “Oranje Blanje Blou” apartheid flag.
It’s not Amazon’s fault that the Confederate flag became so controversial recently, but the obvious insincerity of the anti-racist sentiment for only one particular item begs to be called out. Just like those who bought items with the Confederate flag on them only a few years ago, and are now suffering sudden attacks of conscious (Hi, Bubba!), deserve to be called out.
All of that being said, just as many people who have owned controversial artifacts throughout history, Bubba Watson currently owns an authentic “General Lee” and can do with it as he pleases.
However, as he has shown himself unable to respect the cultural history that he has owned for three years now, the best thing for him to do is sell the vehicle quietly and privately.
This would allow the cultural integrity to be preserved while at the same time granting Watson the opportunity to bow out of any ongoing, yet decidedly silly, controversy. Erasing history is the stuff of intellectual lightweights and the illiberal.
Let’s not nod and wave ourselves into forgetting where we came from and how far we’ve come.