A police officer with the NYPD's 34th Precinct has been told he or she can drive a hot rod with a Confederate flag painted across the roof to work, but can't park it in the staff lot. The directive came in response to a report by CBS2 on the presence of the car at the station house.
The car is a replica of General Lee, the 1969 Dodge Charger that jumped its way through dozens of episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard.
The car, the report notes, is "prominently decorated with a symbol some equate with racism," which hedges the issue to the point of non-recognition. It's true that not everybody equates the flag with racism—Lynyrd Skynyrd and, for some reason, Kid Rock are in this camp—but most of those nonbelievers also happen to be white. What bothers black people about the flag, and what should bother white people, as Ta-Nehisi Coates argued in a post for The Atlantic, is "that it is the chosen symbol of slaveholders and those who wanted to live in a republic rooted in slaveholding."
In any case, the flag remains a signature of the Dukes franchise, and in 2012, rumors that it would be stripped from merchandise and a possible sequel were shot down by Warner Brothers.
This is not the first time the General Lee has made an appearance in connection with the NYPD. The car, or one like it, was photographed at the now-closed New York City Police Museum's vintage car show in 2010 and 2011. And an Instagram user spotted a half-General Lee rolling through Harlem back in 2013.
Back in 2009, The Brooklyn Paper reported on a Bay Ridge man flying the stars and bars from his balcony as a "one-man protest" against political correctness.
The CBS team on the General Lee story didn't find any Washington Heights residents who are too bent out of shape about the muscle car, though a reporter did have one fellow passing by do a weird thought exercise in which he imagined himself as a cop, driving the car. The result:
“I would feel uncomfortable driving that,” said Michael Wynn, of Washington Heights. “If I was a cop, I would feel very uncomfortable.”
But a call to the Police Department's public relations arm provoked the not-in-our-lot decree on this basis:
Due to the fact that its presence at the NYPD facility may be considered offensive and/or inappropriate, the registered owner is being instructed that the car should not be parked on NYPD property.
Unable to track down the car's owner, we looked to the soul-crushing recesses of Thee Rant message board for some rank-and-file NYPD reaction.
User HAPD writes:
I guess it would be okay to fly the Kenyan flag or any other fourth world shittewhole. It is a big part of American History and means a whole lot more than slavery. To say otherwise is just ignorant.