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CNN’s Van Jones expressed his surprise over NASCAR’s “stunning” announcement banning all Confederate flags at racing events.
The CNN political commentator told host Erin Burnett that he “did a double take” when he heard the news on Wednesday, noting that “there must be something really wrong in America” for the auto racing body to make a decision to ban Confederate flags from its events.
“It was stunning. I was on a Zoom call… and I looked down on my phone, and it said that NASCAR is going to get rid of the Confederate flags. I literally did a double-take. I’m like, ‘Am I awake? Is this real?’” Jones said on “OutFront” Wednesday.
In a statement earlier, NASCAR had expressed that the presence of the flags at racing 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,” the statement read.
Earlier this week, Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s Cup Series’ only full-time African American driver, had called for a ban on the flag that represents the Confederate States of America which existed from 1861 to 1865.
“No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. It starts with Confederate flags,” Wallace told CNN. “Get them out of here. They have no place for them.”
Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only black driver, goes on CNN to call for ban of Confederate flags at races https://t.co/V4uGMi6oXA
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) June 9, 2020
“I mean, NASCAR is, you know, Confederate flag-friendly, I’ll put it that way, most of the time. Good folks, hard-working folks, but it’s not a bastion of racial justice or agitation by any stretch,” Jones said on CNN Wednesday.
“And yet something has touched the conscience of the human species when you see a lynching — and that’s what that was. We’ve been lynched for 400 years here. But nobody — at no point could a billion people see it at the same time on their cell phones,” he continued, referring to the video that sparked international outrage as it showed the arrest of George Floyd who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“And something has touched the conscience of the nation, of the human species, and NASCAR says we don’t want to aid and abet any of the ugly history and present, we want to move in a different direction,” Jones said.
“When NASCAR is saying that, I think Kudlow might reconsider his position,” the former Obama adviser added, referring to comments by White House advisor Larry Kudlow who contended that systemic racism does not exist in the United States.
“There must be something really wrong in America for this many people to be now coming together around a painful table to have a new discussion,” Jones said.
Earlier he reacted directly to Kudlow’s remark and argued that President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, and other Republicans, should be listening to voices within the Party such as U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who is leading the Senate’s police reform plan.
“I think it’s very unfortunate he said that,” Jones said of Kudlow.
“We are in the middle of a great awakening across the world on this issue, a continent of common ground has materialized in almost a miraculous way where you have people saying — including tens of millions of white Americans saying for the first time no, racism is real. There’s something wrong with our criminal justice system and our policing system and what can I do about it?” Jones continued.
“I’ve never seen this before in my life. Tens, maybe hundreds of millions of white people coming to the same conclusion and somehow Kudlow managed to fall off of this continent that’s just emerged,” he added.
“It is really, really unfortunate because this is the time when, you know, great conservatives like Tim Scott — you can be conservative and still believe in limited government and individual rights and dignity. Tim Scott is a strong conservative,” he said, referring to the only African-American Republican in the U.S. Senate and staunch Trump defender. “He’s willing to address the issue head-on.”
“There’s going to have to be a reckoning inside the Republican Party. Some of their policies have been good for African-Americans but their rhetoric has not all too often, and their understanding is sometimes too shallow,” Jones added, saying those like Scott “need to get a lot louder in the Republican Party.”
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