Racism at Talladega

July 2, 2020

By John McClaughry

The news media was overflowing last month with the story that some unknown racist had left a noose hanging in the Talladega track garage assigned to NASCAR’s only black driver, Bubba Wallace.

Wallace himself didn’t raise the issue, but when it hit the front pages he lamented – not surprisingly – that such people were still on the loose inflaming racial animosities, but he wasn’t going to let it stop his career. Wallace’s fellow NASCAR drivers engaged in an on-track procession of support for Bubba. That would have been a commendable show of support for a black man threatened by sinister racists.

But meanwhile, fifteen federal agents – fifteen – descended on Talladega and with the aid of track technicians discovered in only two intense days of investigating that far from being a hate crime, the menacing noose was merely a pull rope used to pull down the overhead door, and it had been there at least since last October, long before that garage was assigned to black driver Wallace.

In short, there was nothing to this wild story, but the national news media and politicians grabbed it to illustrate their narrative that America is under assault by racism, and no desperate measure to combat it, like banishing Teddy Roosevelt’s statue from the New York Public Library, is beyond the pale.

Yes, there is unfortunately a lot of racism still in evidence, but sensationalizing false accounts doesn’t help to stamp it out.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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