NASCAR apparently is turning its back on fans of the rebel flag.
The auto racing association has asked its fans to “refrain from displaying the Confederate flag” at its races, releasing a statement Thursday signed by tracks that host the Sprint Cup, Xfinity, Camping World Truck series, and others.
Capitalizing on what it sees as a “politically correct” shift in the media, NASCAR’s statement stopped short of an outright ban of the Confederate flag, but encouraged fans to be “more welcoming” and “inclusive” by keeping tracks free of “offensive symbols.”
“We are committed to providing a welcoming atmosphere free of offensive symbols. This is an opportunity for NASCAR Nation to demonstrate its sense of mutual respect and acceptance for all who attend our events,” the statement said.
The move follows an earlier statement by NASCAR Chairman Brian France, who said the organization would go “as far as we can” to eliminate the flag from the sport, according to NBC Sports.
Daytona International Speedway announced on Tuesday that it would not ban any Confederate imagery, but also announced plans for a voluntary “flag swap” during coming races. Joe Chitwood, Daytona president, said the swap — in which fans can exchange Confederate flags for American flags — was part of the speedway’s efforts to be “inclusive to everyone.”
“The last thing you want is for anyone to come to a sporting event and really not enjoy that experience because of symbols that really represent things that we’re not proud of,” he told NBC.
The letter – signed by 32 race tracks – makes it clear that NASCAR is moving toward an environment free of Confederate imagery, ostensibly to broaden the appeal of the sport to more “politically correct” segments of society.
But NASCAR fans are probably the wrong crowd to be PC with. Most fans of the sport aren’t cuddly East Coast liberals with a delicate set of feelings. They tend to be independently minded and fairly conservative.
In fact, the Republican National Committee has recognized the conservative nature of NASCAR fans and decided to make them an integral part of its effort to register more potential Republican voters ahead of the 2016 elections, according to Roll Call.
But in the world of “political correctness,” it no longer matters what consumers, fans, or followers want. It really only matters what the media finds “offensive,” and the NASCAR leadership has decided to jump on the anti-Confederate bandwagon.
NASCAR can set up all the “flag exchanges” and polite PC letters it wants, but there’s a good chance the battle flag will still be flying at most of its events — unless tracks decide to go full-liberal and institute an outright ban. So far, none has gone that far.
Judging by the initial reaction of fans on Twitter, NASCAR’s request will likely be met with strong resistance from the sport’s predominantly Southern fan base.
@foxandfriends I would love to see the General Lee be the pace car and have Bo & Luke drive it.
— Michael Henneman (@MichaelHennema4) July 3, 2015
NASCAR asks fans not to fly Confederate flag @foxandfriends yeah….that’ll work
— Robert Powell (@RPTexan) July 3, 2015
@jeff_gluck this country has lost their damn minds to PC nonsense. This will only cause TWICE as many rebel flags to fly in the infield.
— Aaron Baird (@aaron_baird) July 2, 2015
— Brent smith (@bhambrent) July 2, 2015
— Dutch (@Dutch_RDS) July 2, 2015
— Tina Marie (@Tina_B85) July 2, 2015
“Political correctness” is clearly getting a little out of control when NASCAR starts attacking a symbol of Southern pride.