Two of the country’s most famous NASCAR drivers, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his late father, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., have voiced their opposition to the Confederate flag’s presence at NASCAR events. The younger even did so within Trump’s first term in office. However, Trump never lashed out at them on Twitter or said they were ruining the sport for everyone. That criticism was reserved for NASCAR’s only black driver, Bubba Wallace, and was unleashed in a tweet on Monday morning by the president of the United States.
The controversy began when Wallace was assigned a new slot in the Talladega garage, where a rope that had been tied in the form of a noose was found. To be clear, Wallace “was not the one who found the noose in the garage and did not report it.” After an FBI investigation into the incident, the noose was determined to have been there as a rope pull for the garage door that had been there prior to Wallace’s assignment. The case, at that point, was settled, but not for Donald Trump.
After his outrageous tweet, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) discussed the criticism on Fox News host Brian Kilmeade’s radio show. Although Graham is usually just another sycophant for the president, he occasionally voices an opposing position.
According to Axios, Graham said:
‘You saw the best in NASCAR. When there was a chance that it was a threat against Bubba Wallace, [they] all rallied to Bubba’s side. I would be looking to celebrate that kind of attitude more than being worried about it being a hoax. … I don’t think Bubba Wallace has anything to apologize for.’
"I don't think Bubba Wallace has anything to apologize for," Lindsey Graham says on Fox News radio re: Trump's tweet. "You saw the best in NASCAR. They all rallied to Bubba's side. I would be looking to celebrate that kind of attitude rather than being worried it's a hoax."
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) July 6, 2020
Of course, the incident was also never determined to be a “hoax,” as Trump referred to it. The noose was very real and Wallace’s team had good reason to be concerned, and his fellow NASCAR drivers were right to stand with him during the investigation since. The man who invented birtherism, however, demanded an apology from a black race car driver who was never determined to have lied, been involved in the reporting, or attempting to stir up controversy.
‘While the FBI determined that the noose had been in place as a garage pull rope in a Talladega garage sine October 2019 and thus was not intended for Wallace, NASCAR’s president confirmed that it “was real” and that it moved quickly to launch an investigation in order to “protect” its driver.’
Lindsey Graham pushes back on Trump’s NASCAR tweet. “They're trying to grow the sport," Graham said, referring to ban of Confederate flags. "And I've lived in South Carolina all my life and if you're in business, the Confederate flag is not a good way to grow your business."
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 6, 2020
Graham also weighed in on Trump’s comments about the banning of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events, disagreeing with Trump’s opposition to the policy. Of course, this is not the first time the flag has been banned and it hasn’t since been banned because of what happened to Bubba Wallace, but Trump is blaming him anyway.
Graham said that banning that flag is just good business.
‘They’re trying to grow the sport. I’ve lived in South Carolina all my life and, if you’re in business, the Confederate flag is not a good way to grow your business. The idea that Bubba Wallace, who is I think the only African American driver, was upset by somebody finding a noose in the garage made perfect sense to me.’
To make sure anyone thought Graham was totally abdicating his position as an enabler of Trump’s racist rhetoric, however, he issued a tweet condemning Colin Kaepernick the same morning.
Contrary to Mr. Kaepernick's opinion, I believe the world is MUCH better off with America and all the contributions she has made since her founding. https://t.co/tIdOg9EU44
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 6, 2020
Featured image screenshot via YouTube