Someone needs to pay the price for NASCAR’s noose fiasco: Devine
Someone needs to pay for the NASCAR noose fiasco.
It was never true that a “noose” was deliberately placed, as a racist threat, in the Alabama garage stall of Bubba Wallace, the only black full-time driver on the NASCAR circuit.
“There was no hate crime” NASCAR boss Steve Phelps admitted Tuesday after 48 hours of incendiary hysteria.
Phelps didn’t even have the grace to act embarrassed about sending a gullible media off on a “wild noose chase” during a time of heightened racial tension.
No fewer than 15 FBI agents were summoned to investigate the false alarm.
The “noose,” they quickly discovered, was just a small loop tied to the bottom of a rope on a garage door at the Talladega Superspeedway, presumably to make it easier to raise and lower the door, and it had been there since at least last October.
“Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week,” the FBI said in a statement Tuesday.
NASCAR also admitted Tuesday that the so-called “noose” was just a “garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose.”
Images and video from 2017 and 2019, published on news Web sites and social media, show at least two garages side by side at Talladega with similar loops in their pull ropes. The loops are no bigger than would fit a wrist and appear to be formed by a simple slipknot.
So, there we have it. Much ado about nothing.
Phelps seems to think that’s the end of it. He thought the worst of the people who are the heart and soul of his organization and then went out and incited hatred against them. He leaped to malicious conclusions about his fellow citizens, against all prudence and common sense, and now he thinks all is forgiven.
“There’s no place for racism in NASCAR,” he had thundered Monday, recklessly adding fuel to the false narrative of rampant racism in America.
“We will be doing everything within our power that whoever committed this act comes to justice . . . and we rid this type of behavior from our sport.”
He sounded breathless and frightened. The 58-year-old former marketing manager, elevated to president less than two years ago, clearly was out of his depth. He had been merrily injecting political correctness into the car-racing business, appointing “diversity and inclusion” officers and, in the wake of the George Floyd protests, two weeks ago banning the Confederate flag.
NASCAR fans staged a peaceful protest Sunday. They didn’t vandalize anything, throw rocks at cops or set buildings ablaze. They just drove past the entrance to the Alabama speedway in their pickup trucks, festooned with the Confederate flags they don’t agree are symbols of hate. A plane flew overhead pulling a banner that read “Defund NASCAR.”
But Phelps was so primed for woke that he saw a crisis where there was none.
To say he overreacted is a gross understatement. If he had any shame he would resign. Either way, NASCAR’s owners, the France family, owe an apology to the maligned fans who made them filthy rich.
But more than anyone, Bubba Wallace deserves an apology.
Through no fault of his own, Wallace, 26, is now being labeled “Jussie Smollett” as if the racer had created a hoax.
He told CNN Tuesday night how upset he was that his integrity was being questioned.
The first he knew about any noose was Sunday evening when a overwrought Phelps knocked on the door of his motor home, “tears rolling down his face, choked up on every word he had to say, [to tell him] that a hate crime was committed.
“I immediately thought my family was in danger and so I was about ready to call my mom and dad and make sure everyone was OK . . . I’ve never seen the noose. I never reported it.”
He is complimentary about Phelps but he should not be.
The NASCAR boss embroiled him in a sad race row and unnecessarily alarmed him with emotional theatrics.
At his Monday media conference, Phelps had explained that a crew member from Wallace’s team had discovered the “noose” Sunday afternoon and informed NASCAR. “I got a small group of senior leaders at NASCAR together to try to determine what the next steps would be.”
It didn’t occur to these geniuses it might be another of the fake noose alarms that keep popping up.
Last week, in Oakland, Calif., for instance, progressive Mayor Libby Schaaf made “hate crime” allegations after “nooses” were spotted on trees next to a lake. Turned out they were ropes for exercise and fun that had been installed by resident Victor Sengbe, a black man.
Did Phelps go to the Talladega garage and personally inspect the so-called noose before alarming Wallace?
He was unavailable yesterday but a NASCAR spokesman could not say whether Phelps had ever inspected the noose, only that he had seen “photographic evidence.”
Does Phelps think he overreacted? No.
“I do want to make sure everyone understands that if given the evidence that we had was delivered to us . . . we would do the same thing.”
If he is too unaware of history and human nature to understand the damage he caused by crying wolf and squandering the good will of kindhearted people on a racial hoax, he should go back to selling Coke ads.
He injected the rancid politics of racial division into sports, the one activity Americans have left to take their minds off the woes of the world. They pay his salary and he spat in their face.
The insult cannot go unanswered.
‘Food’ for thought: TV host is despicable
It was despicable for Food Network host John Henson to use Father’s Day to mock 14-year-old Barron Trump.
He’s not alone. Last week a petition titled “save Barron Trump from his family” did the rounds of social media.
Since First Lady Melania Trump is famously protective of her son, President Trump’s haters hope they can goad the president through his family.
Obviously, Henson is not a fan, but why pick on a teenager by questioning his parentage?
He deleted the foul tweet that suggested Barron’s father is not Trump, but if he doesn’t watch out, his apple will turn sour.
It’d be a mistake for Trump to drop Pence
It would be crazy for President Trump to drop Mike Pence just to install a woman as his running mate.
That’s been the rumor for over a year. First, it was Nikki Haley, former UN ambassador. Now it’s upstate US Rep. Elise Stefanik, 36, according to Forbes magazine and the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. All because the president gave her a shoutout at his Tulsa rally over the weekend.
Pence has been the indispensable, unimpeachable rock of Trump’s presidency, the yin to his yang. He was the reassuring presence behind the coronavirus task force and, in truth, should have been its public face.
Ditching him would look ungrateful, panicky and like the worst Bidenesque tokenism.
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