What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
We all have heard the recent silliness over the fact that TV Land has decided to pull the show “Dukes of Hazzard” off the air because it features a car with a Confederate Flag on it. It’s just another example of how we’ve let symbolism trump substance in this country. We all know the bottom line here isn’t the car, it’s the flag painted on it. Worse yet, the guy who owns the “General Lee” is going to paint over the Confederate Flag because of this nonsense.
I’m a sports fan, and I watch all sports, even golf. Having said that, Bubba Watson is one of my favorite golfers. But I have to call him out on this; announcing you will destroy the collector value of an item you admit was purchased as a collector is an incredible act of self-emasculation.
First of all Bubba, you knew this was a problem a long time ago, because this isn’t the first time both you and the “General Lee” have been featured in this series. Back in 2012, the NASCAR people wouldn’t let you drive that piece of memorabilia as the pace car as a NASCAR race because “it could be considered offensive.” So, not only is this pure silliness, it’s not new.
Last month, PGA golfer Bubba Watson purchased his dream car – the famed “General Lee” of Dukes of Hazzard fame – for $110,000 at the Barrett-Jackson automobile auction. Phoenix International Raceway officials then invited Watson — a close friend of NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin — to be an honorary race official and take a lap in his new ride prior to the upcoming Sprint Cup Series race at the track. But NASCAR caught wind of the arrangement this week and nixed the whole idea on grounds the car could be considered offensive…
…The General Lee, which was driven by the Duke boys in the early 1980s TV series, is named for Confederate general Robert E. Lee and has a Confederate flag on the roof. While that may have been acceptable in the old NASCAR, the new NASCAR is much more image-conscious and doesn’t want to exclude any of its fans. NASCAR’s view is having the General Lee parade around the track before one of its races could be construed as condoning a symbol of racism.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Anybody who can look at a car and see a symbol of racism wants to see racism everywhere they look. Face it, if you can be offended by an inanimate object, you either have too much time on your hands or you don’t have enough real problems in your life.
Again, people are making the Confederate Flag the problem here. Not long ago, I wrote a piece for TurtleBoy Sports outlining the ridiculousness of this entire debate. You may find it helpful for purposes of this discussion to read it. Much like my first piece on this issue in 2012, the entire discussion is based on the false belief that we can ascribe all of the evils of society to a few symbols, and that by banishing the symbols, the problems go away.
It doesn’t take long to realize what utter twaddle that is.
You can see that while keeping this specific to Bubba Watson and the “General Lee.” Back in 2012, Bubba had no problem with the idea of climbing into that car and letting the whole world see him driving it.
Frankly, I get the feeling Bubba Watson may have wanted to say more than this, but he was smart enough to stay out of the meat of the discussion. Now, he’s diving into the middle of it by letting us all know he’s going to paint over the “offending” flag. So, what changed? I think the key lies in an article from the New York Daily News.
Watson purchased the original General Lee 1 – the classic Dodge Charger that features a huge Confederate flag on the roof was one of the stars of the TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard” – for $110,000 at an auction in 2012. A big fan of the old show, Watson even had the car signed by ‘Bo Duke’ (the actor Jon Schneider) back in January.
At first, Bubba couldn’t contain his glee at owning this car. Just look at the picture. Just look at the autograph. This guy is a collector, and he couldn’t be happier at what he’s got. He says so himself.
“You know I bought the General Lee last year. I had to have it. I’m a huge ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ fan. I have the complete DVD collection. After I got the car, I didn’t have it a month before I put it into the shop. It was messed up when I got it. There were hundreds of General Lees, but mine was the original. It had done a lot of jumping. There was a big concrete block in the back seat to stabilize it when it was airborne, none of the gauges on the dash worked, and it didn’t have seat belts. I handed it over to some car junkies, and a year and $10,000 later—that’s a cheap price, by the way—I got it back. Everything in it is perfect. Would I drive it into Augusta? Sure, it’s just a car. But will I? No. That’s a long way to transport a car just to drive it to a golf course.”
When he bought it, he had every intent of showing that car off everywhere he could. That’s pretty obvious. However, that brings us squarely back to the back to the original question: What changed?
I’ve got two theories as to why. I’ll start with the one I consider to be less likely:
1) He’s grandstanding.
Consider the following. Once the debate over the Confederate Flag resurfaced in the wake of the Charleston church murders, Watson could have easily left the “General Lee” under the it’s tarp in his garage (don’t forget, he a self-admitted “collector,” it’s not as if that car was putting oil drops in his sitting in his driveway). All he has to do is literally to keep his car under wraps, wait for this current incarnation of the “flag debate” to blow over, and nobody would have ever been the wiser.
But by making such a public announcement, he can now be seen as “taking a decisive stand” in an America which as I said, values symbolism over substance. By destroying such an “icon of racism,” Watson buys himself an iron-clad defense against any possible charge of him being a racist.
Which is exactly why I think the real reason is #2.
2) He’s afraid.
We all know one of the worst things you can do to a white person in America is to call them a racist. Once that label is successfully stuck on a white person, they are effectively ostracized. It gets even worse when you are a rich, white, Southerner who made his fortune in a sport with a long history of exclusion. In other words, Watson’s got a lot to lose if somebody manages to get him “kicked off the island.”
Right now, Watson is in the peak years of his career. He’s amassed a net worth of around $20 million, both through his winnings as a pro golfer and his endorsement deals with more than a dozen companies including Ping, Oakley, EA Sports and eBay. The minute he gets called a “racist.” the golf gravy train is over.
Think about where this lands us as a society. If my suspicion is correct (and I’m all ears for alternate theories), then Watson is about to destroy the collector’s value of one of his prized possession for little more than an insurance policy against a false charge of being a racist.
Bubba’s no racist. He’s a fan of an old television show who just so happens to have the money to own the prime piece of memorabilia from that show. He’s no more a racist than I would be a Nazi if I owned Colonel Klink’s staff car from Hogan’s Heroes.
The paint which can cover how stupid we’ve become in America has yet to be invented.