A symbol of hate has unofficially been a symbol of American auto racing. Nascar hasn’t encouraged the flying of the Confederate flag, but the flag was hard to miss– whipping over parking lots as ubiquitous as the scent of tailgate grilles.
Now even Nascar has joined a growing procession of those denouncing the flag in the days after nine African-American worshippers were shot dead in their Charleston church. Dylann Roof, 21, has been charged with nine counts of murder.
The racing association, long an icon of southern culture, released a statement on Tuesday supporting South Carolina governor Nikki Haley’s demand to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse.
“As we continue to mourn the tragic loss of life last week in Charleston, we join our nation’s embrace of those impacted. Nascar supports the position that South Carolina governor Nikki Haley took on the Confederate flag on Monday,” the statement read.
“As our industry works collectively to ensure that all fans are welcome at our races, Nascar will continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official Nascar capacity. While Nascar recognizes that freedom of expression is an inherent right of all citizens, we will continue to strive for an inclusive environment at our events.”
While Nascar did not ban the flag from its events, Tuesday’s statement is a significant development. An institution of southern life is saying that it no longer believes in the flag that has been a part of its identity. Some fans will undoubtedly continue to bring flags to the races, but Nascar has made clear that the flag should not be a part of its culture.
Several American retailers – including Sears, Wal-Mart and eBay – have reportedly announced bans on merchandise displaying the confederate flag. Now a bastion of southern life has said it would rather its fans not fly the flag at all.nas
This article was written by Les Carpenter in New York, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 23rd June 2015 20.11 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010