Nascar bans confederate flags at races

American Nascar race series bans Confederate flags at races

Predictably, it has caused controversy

AMERICAN motor sport series Nascar has announced that it will no longer allow Confederate flags to be flown at its races or events, neither by competitors or fans. Unsurprisingly, the announcement has caused a furore, with some vowing to never again attend a race, and others to carry on bringing the flag to races despite the new rules.

The flag, which bears a white-bordered blue cross (emblazoned with thirteen white stars) on a red background, was flown by the Confederacy during the American Civil War (1861-1865). The war was fought between the northern states (the Union), which wished to end the enslavement of black people, and the southern states (the Confederacy), which wanted continue slavery. The flag is considered to have links to white supremacy and slavery, and is considered a symbol of hate by the Anti Defamation League.

In a statement on Twitter, Nascar said: “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. Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”

Some, especially in the American south — a region often associated with Nascar — see the flag as an image of heritage, rather than a hate symbol. Fans of Nascar who hold this view are now accusing the sport of pandering to “Liberal” fans, and taking a needlessly politically-correct stance.

Many, however, are praising the move as the sport distancing itself from the harmful politics that the flag has come to represent in many circles, and showing itself to be a motor sport committed to fans of all races. One commenter spoke of how her father had always loved Nascar but had never attended a race due to his fears of encountering racism. Others spoke of their embarrassment at their own confederate heritage.

The sport’s only black driver, Bubba Wallace, called the move a “pivotal moment for the sport”. In a race at Martinsville Speedway last night, he clad his car in Black Lives Matter livery and wore a t-shirt bearing the words “I can’t breathe”.

The announcement comes as the US is forced to reckon with its systemic racism. Nationwide riots over the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, continue, with many calling for police forces across the country to be defunded.

The officer responsible for Floyd’s death, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder. Confederate statues are being toppled by protesters. A statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis was toppled in Richmond, Virginia, last night, and statues of Christopher Columbus are being vandalised across the nation.

In the UK, protesters in Bristol brought down a statue of 17th-century slave owner Edward Colston, before throwing it in Bristol harbour. Other statues are also being removed by local councils pending decisions on what to do with them.

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