President Trump blasting NASCAR and Bubba Wallace is nonsensical and needlessly divisive

On Monday, President Donald Trump decided to blast NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace (and NASCAR in general)

He also claimed victimhood for Wallace’s fellow drivers and friends on the circuit who stood by the sport’s lone African American driver after a noose was discovered hanging in his garage at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

The FBI eventually determined the noose was a bizarre happenstance and not a hate crime, but it rattled the sport and sparked a massive, and emotionally moving, outpouring of unity from race teams, competitors, fans and others.

Trump apparently didn’t like that.

He also poked at NASCAR for banning the flying of Confederate flags at its races, making Trump a government official blasting a private company for asserting the freedom to make its own decisions about what its own customers do on its own properties. 

All of that came in just one tweet. 

Most of it was inaccurate, and designed to inflame and enrage, but hey, it’s 2020.

The grade school punctuation was just an added presidential touch in an effort to make the Black guy the culprit and the white guys the victims and torch a rare moment of harmony, friendship, support and love.

Start here: It wasn’t a hoax. It wasn’t a hate crime, as the FBI later determined, but it wasn’t a hoax either. An actual rope that serves as a garage door pull was discovered in Wallace’s garage stall. It had been tied in the form of a noose.

The noose was real. There were even pictures of it discovered from an October 2019 race, when the garage was used by a different driver. When it was fashioned as a noose, no one could have known the following season Wallace would get the garage — the stalls are assigned based on weekly standings. 

Why was the door-pull tied as a noose in 2019? No one knows. Might have been nefarious. It might not. NASCAR had all 29 of its tracks examined and found that in the 1,684 of its garage stalls just 11 had the pull rope tied in any kind of a knot. The one in Stall 4 of Talladega was the only one tied as a noose. Strange. But not a hate crime. 

Also not a hoax. Calling it a hoax is a flat-out lie.

The knot was discovered by David Cropps, who is a mechanic on Wallace’s team. He reported it to security, who reported it to NASCAR and an investigation was launched. 

Wallace never saw the noose. Due to NASCAR’s strict policies to operate during the coronavirus pandemic, Wallace was not even allowed in the garage area and never went there. He never could have even seen the noose.

NASCAR president Steve Phelps was the one who told Wallace about the existence of a noose and NASCAR (and later the feds) sprung to action. 

Wallace had zero to do with any of it. There was no way he was in on it. Blaming him for a hoax that wasn’t a hoax is idiotic. 

If NASCAR made any mistakes it was by immediately declaring in a statement that this was a hate crime. It could have waited for the full investigation to play out before making that determination and maybe kept emotions down.

That said, it was a mistake made out of outrage and pain that such a thing could occur inside its strictly controlled bubble. 

NASCAR is far from perfect. Like any segment of the country it has some reprehensible customers and there is work to do. 

That said, the vast majority of the people who work in it, and the crowds who attend races, are supportive and welcoming of everyone. They just like fast cars and close races. The idea that someone was trying to intimidate and humiliate Wallace, or any of the drivers, was — and will remain — abhorrent to them.

NASCAR, in its official capacity, took the incident extremely seriously. So too did the other drivers and crew members. In a movement started by Jimmie Johnson, it was determined that everyone in the garage area would walk out pre-race with Bubba Wallace. It was a sign of togetherness. It was also a show of defiance to anyone trying to split the sport, and country, apart. 

Bubba Wallace takes a moment by his car after NASCAR drivers pushed him to the front of the grid as a sign of solidarity with the driver prior to the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

It’s the kind of thing that makes America great. 

The conclusion that the noose wasn’t directed at Wallace was the best possible result — there wasn’t a racist in the garage trying to cowardly mess with Bubba Wallace. 

Most people moved on. Not the President of the United States.  

He called something that wasn’t a hoax, a hoax. He sympathized with the white drivers and crew members who chose to proudly walk down pit road with their friend — this was some kind of “sacrifice” according to Trump.

The entire tweet was nonsensical, dishonest and needlessly divisive. It’s totally bizarre that, weeks later, it’s commanding the attention of the White House.

But, again, it’s 2020 in the United States of America.

Another day. Another Donald.

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