With NASCAR, the Confederate flag is out, but the ‘Thin Blue Line’ is in
NASCAR recently banned displays of the Confederate flag at its events. The stock-car racing association did so at the urging of Bubba Wallace, the sport’s lone black driver who pushed for the ban amid the Black Lives Matter protests for George Floyd, the black Minneapolis resident who died in police custody last month.
“No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. It starts with Confederate flags,” Wallace explained of his advocacy. “Get them out of here. They have no place for them.”
NASCAR agreed. “The presence of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” the organization said in a statement.
Wallace, who drives for the team led by NASCAR icon Richard Petty, then unveiled his redesigned car that featured “#BlackLivesMatter” emblazoned on the sides.
In response to NASCAR’s ban, driver Ray Ciccarelli announced he would quit the sport at the end of the 2020 season. But another driver Kyle Weatherman went a different route.
Weatherman recently showcased his car’s new design, which promoted support for law enforcement.
Plastered on the hood of Weatherman’s car was the “Thin Blue Line” flag, while the sides sported the phrase “Back the Blue.”
“A lot going on in the world right now and I wanted to express that most first responders are good people. My uncle is a firefighter and he would do anything to help save lives,” Weatherman tweeted when the car debuted before the Hooters 250 race in Miami last weekend.
“LOVE everyone,” he added.
When some questioned the tweet, which featured a photo of the car, Weatherman replied, ”I support the black men and women of this country and support all first responders also.”
Mike Harmon head of Mike Harmon Racing, Weatherman’s team, told CNN, “As far as this week’s paint theme, there’s thousands upon thousands of police officers in this country that serve us very well and they do not deserve to be disrespected and not be appreciated.
“We at MHR want to send the message [that the deaths of police officers killed in the line of duty] wasn’t in vain and that they’re not forgotten and very much appreciated.”
Weatherman ultimately finished 33rd in the race, forced from competition by what NASCAR attributed to a “fire.”
But with the way the tide is flowing in the current culture war, with people losing their jobs ovr saying “All lives matter,” it remains to be seen if NASCAR’s commitment to inclusivity will embrace police officers as well.
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