The Associated Press reports that Jones, who played the wisecracking mechanic "Cooter" on the show (which aired from 1979-1985), said that the Pops' decision to cancel the event, featuring series stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat, amounted to a "blacklisting of these guys out of some kind of political correctness that is just plain wrongheaded."
Jones, who represented Georgia's 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1989 to 1993, added, "This is a benign family show loved by people of all ages and races. I have fought racism and bigotry my whole life and worked in the civil rights movement, and there is nothing racist about it."
The orchestra reportedly decided some audience members might be offended because the Confederate battle flag was on the "General Lee" car featured in the show.
Schneider said in a statement released on March 16 and quoted by the AP, "I find it sad and depressing that in this day and age, someone could be as misinformed and narrow-minded as this. If you want to know what kind of guy I am ... go and see my work. Unless of course, someone has denied me the right to do so."
A representative of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra said the organization had discussed a possible Dukes of Hazzard-themed program but had neither formally announced the event nor sold tickets for it. "In the end, we decided that some of the messages conveyed in the program are not consistent with the efforts of the Pops to reach out to all members of our community." The spokesperson stressed that the orchestra has had a long relationship with Schneider and Wopat and "we look forward to working with them in the future."
According to the AP, Edith Thrower, president of the Cincinnati branch of the NAACP, was contacted a few weeks ago by Pops conductor Erich Kunzel, who wanted the NAACP's reaction to plans to refer to the TV show in promoting the performers' appearance.
Thrower said, "It's very clear how we feel about the Confederate flag and the long and arduous fight we have conducted to get rid of that symbol of a very unpleasant time in our history."