Who among us, to borrow a phrase from a former senator, has never been feted at a D.C. fundraiser featuring music from a former “Dukes of Hazzard” actor who last year wrote to NASCAR protesting its decision not to allow a car drive a speedway lap because it had a Confederate flag on its roof?
US Representative Edward J. Markey was supposed to have just that experience at a Tuesday night event, featuring musical guest Ben Jones. A former two-term Democratic congressman from Georgia, Jones played the role of mechanic “Cooter Davenport” on the “Dukes of Hazzard” television show.
But Markey on Tuesday asked Jones not to come, his campaign said, after learning of Jones’s ringing defense of the Confederate flag.
Last year, NASCAR canceled a planned parade lap by golfer Bubba Watson behind the wheel of the “General Lee,” the car featured on the show, at Phoenix International Raceway due to worries about reactions to the car’s roof, which features the Civil War banner of the South. Jones posted a letter on his website saying NASCAR had “chosen to dishonor those Southerners who fought and died in that terrible conflict by caving to ‘political correctness’ and the uninformed concerns of corporate sponsors.”
“This is also an extraordinary insult to rural Southerners, who are NASCAR’s oldest and most fervent fan base, and it sends a message against inclusion and against the need for diversity,” wrote Jones. “Many of us who are descended from ancestors who fought for the South see this as a crude dishonoring of our kinfolks and our heritage. Our ancestors were proud Americans who had fought for our Nation before the Civil War and have served honorably in every conflict since then.”
After the Globe asked the Markey campaign for comment, a spokesman said that Markey had asked Jones, whom he knew as a fellow Democratic congressman, to bow out of the event.
“Ed Markey only learned about Ben Jones’s comments today, he strongly disagrees with them and has asked Jones not to be part of tonight’s event,” said the spokesman, Andrew Zucker, in an e-mail. “Ed believes such Confederate relics are highly offensive, and should not be displayed in public settings, period.”
The invitation to the 6 p.m. Markey fund-raiser, at the home of Ginny Grenham and Paul Zevnik, asks for $5,200 for “host” status, $2,600 to sponsor, and $1,000 to be a “friend.”
According to his website, cootersplace.com, Jones has remained politically active. At the Markey fund-raiser, he was scheduled to appear with Cooter’s Garage Band.