Trump criticizes NASCAR over Confederate flag ban, targets black driver Bubba Wallace

Bubba Wallace, driver of the Chevrolet # 43 World Wide Technology, walks the grid ahead of the Big Machine 400 NASCAR Cup Series Hand Sanitizer powered by Big Machine Records at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 5, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Chris Graythen | fake pictures

President Donald Trump lashed out Monday against the only black driver in the NASCAR Cup series and removed his ban on the Confederation battle flag.

Trump asked in a tweet if Bubba Wallace, 26, “apologized to all the great NASCAR drivers and officers who came to his aid, stood by him and were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that everything was it just another HOAX? “

Trump was referring to the findings that what appeared to have been a knot found in Wallace’s garage recently was a pull rope and was not intended to intimidate the driver. It was not considered a hoax, as the president claims.

“That Flag decision has caused the lowest ratings EVER!” The president added in a reference to NASCAR’s move last month to ban the display of the Confederate battle flag.

Contrary to Trump’s tweet, NASCAR’s ratings have actually risen from previous years, according to the Speed ​​Report.

The flag has been commonly displayed at NASCAR races for decades. NASCAR in 2015 had called for fans not to fly the flag after the killing of nine black parishioners by the racist Dylan Roof in Charleston, South Carolina, but many fans ignored that request.

The only full-time black driver on the NASCAR Cup circuit, Wallace has been an outspoken critic of the Confederacy flag and has asked the racing organization to “kick” them out of events. “No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race,” Wallace said last month.

Days later, NASCAR announced that “The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited at all NASCAR events and properties.”

The White House rejected CNBC’s request for comment on the President’s tweet about the Confederate flag. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wallace had also spoken after the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for about eight minutes. Floyd’s death, which was captured on video, triggered a wave of mass protests across the country.

In June, Wallace wore a shirt with the words “I can’t breathe / Black Lives Matter” before a race in Atlanta.

Later that month, NASCAR announced that a knot had been found at Wallace’s garage stall during a race in Talladega, Alabama, and that an investigation had begun.

The discovery immediately sparked speculation that the rope was an act of retaliation. “There is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our determination to make the sport open and welcoming to everyone,” the organization said in a statement at the time.

Wallace also chimed in and tweeted that “the despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly sad and serves as a painful reminder of how much more we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism.” “

A campaign sign for the President of the United States, Donald Trump, stands next to a Confederate flag with the words “I will not go down” in the backyard of a house in Sandston, Virginia, USA, 4 of July 2020.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

But the FBI determined that the rope had been used to knock down the garage door since fall 2019.

US Attorney Jay Town and FBI Special Agent Johnnie Sharp Jr. said their investigation determined that “no one could have known that Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.”

The FBI concluded that no crime had been committed.

The controversy over the symbols of the Confederacy came amid a national lawsuit over racial and police brutality following the death of Floyd and other blacks by the police.

Activists have called on states and localities to remove public statues of historical figures they consider problematic. Some statues have been defaced or demolished by protesters. Trump has been a vocal critic of the movement, denouncing “anarchists” who damage monuments and threatening jail for those who participate.

In his Independence Day speech on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, Trump denounced what he described as a “left-wing cultural revolution designed to overthrow the American Revolution.”

“To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol and memory of our national heritage,” said Trump.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden took a more nuanced view and said at a recent press conference that he believes Confederate monuments could be moved to museums.

The debate over the flag in particular has not been limited to NASCAR. The Republican governor of Mississippi last week enacted the decision to change the state flag, which included the Confederate battle flag.