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NASCAR is wise to distance itself from Confederate flag, a symbol tied to hatred Featured

Posted On Sunday, 28 June 2015 00:00 Written by
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The South and NASCAR are forever tied together.

The back roads and the moonshiners down South is where NASCAR began, so despite its rise to a national presence in the past few decades, it's still a Southern sport at its root and that's how it's perceived by many in this country.

So this recent controversy about the Confederate flag in South Carolina, and NASCAR's take on it, is interesting.
One would think, from a distance, that NASCAR would be that rare group that defends the flag -- claiming its part of the Southern heritage and not to be condemned.

Wrong.

NASCAR joined basically everyone else in the world this week in admitting that the flag represents the wrong side of history (that whole slavery and Jim Crow business), and they will continue their policy of not using it in any official capacity at any of their race tracks.

They did not, however, ban the fans from flying Confederate flags; which I support since that is a matter of free speech and it's not NASCAR's business what's on the side of someone's RV.

NASCAR chairman Brian France was quite bold in his dislike of the flag, calling it an insensitive symbol.

"We want to go as far as we can to eliminate the presence of that flag," France told The Associated Press. "I personally find it an offensive symbol, so there is no daylight how we feel about it, and our sensitivity to others who feel the same way. Obviously, we have our roots in the South, there are events in the South, it's part of our history like it is for the country. But it needs to be just that, part of our history. It isn't part of our future. We want everybody in this country to be a NASCAR fan, and you can't do that by being insensitive in any one area."

The sport's biggest names have spoken up, including a son of the South, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who said the flag is "offensive to an entire race" and belongs in the history books.

So basically, everyone agrees it's good for NASCAR to steer clear of the Stars and Bars, right?

Wrong.

There is a vocal minority of fans who, whenever this type of political stuff comes up, cries a river. A neverending chorus of "I'm done with this sport" sparks up and people reminisce about the good old days when Confederate flags were embraced by the sport.

But let's be honest -- were they really the good old days? Was it the good old days when Wendell Scott wasn't announced as winner or allowed to celebrate his signature win in Victory Lane at Jacksonville for fear of the white crowd's reaction to seeing a black man win (a reaction that could have easily been violent)?

I completely understand that many in the South had their relatives die in the Civil War, and their intentions to honor those relatives are why they cherish the flag. Nobody is suggesting it can't be hung in their homes, and only a few extremists would seek to take it away from them at the track at their campsite.

But there's a reason it's called history -- it happened in the past and it's over. The South lost the war, and technically the Confederate Flag is a symbol of treason since the Southern states seceded. Even without the racial implications, that's enough reason to avoid it.

Is that really something the sport wants to promote and celebrate on a national stage? Of course not.

So don't call NASCAR politically correct or cowardly for backing away from the Confederate flag ... because that's simply not true. They're using common sense, and the folks who would have that symbol embraced by the sport are living in the past.

Private property is one thing and the Confederate flag can be celebrated by individuals as they wish, but for any government or sport or business to embrace a symbol as associated with hatred as the Confederate flag is just plain ridiculous at this point in history.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

 

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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