Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Never quite passed the smell test

You likely heard about an incident last Sunday involving Bubba Wallace, the only black NASCAR driver who recently (and successfully) lobbied the racing organization to disallow confederate symbols. Upon Wallace entering his designated garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, it was reported that a noose was found in the area. Given the racial tensions bubbling up in America these days, there was immediate outrage over such an occurrence.

“We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” NASCAR’s statement said. “We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport. As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.”

And of course, the narratives just wrote themselves, particularly in light of an infinitesimal number of individuals not happy with confederate symbols no longer being associated with the sport.

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Admittedly though, it led to a powerful scene of unity among the NASCAR family.

I am, by nature, not a cynical person. However, I just couldn't get past the feeling that this was a big nothingburger. Did I believe it was an inside job with Wallace himself involved, contriving a fake "hate crime" in the motif of Jussie Smollett? Actually, no. Wallace had already prevailed in having the Confederate flag banned from the sport, so there seemed to be little incentive for another attention-grabbing headline.

So could this noose have been placed by a dissenting fan who clings to tradition, despite the abhorrence the Confederacy represents? Well, that too seemed a long shot since fans don't have access to the garage area. But there was no way to verify since no NASCAR official could give us a straight answer as to the availability of surveillance footage.

Alas, it was confirmed Tuesday that the whole incident was indeed predicated on bullsh*t.

I have no way of knowing for sure but I have a hunch a good number of NASCAR fans had the same skepticism I had, yet were too afraid to express that sentiment. And can you blame them for such hesitance? Given today's environment of white guilt and self-flagellation, there is literally ZERO tolerance for even healthy skepticism, much less dissent.

Mary Katharine Ham noticed this too:

At the end of the day, the media business is a lot more lucrative when there are people perpetually pissed off. No way any proggie media type was going to upset that apple cart.


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