A Different World

Et, tu NASCAR? Southern-born sport drives away from Confederate flag - and fast

Bree Newsome of Charlotte, N.C., climbs a flagpole to remove the Confederate battle flag at a Confederate monument in front of the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday, June, 27, 2015. She was taken into custody when she came down. The flag was raised again by capitol workers about 45 minutes later. | Bruce Smith AP
Bree Newsome of Charlotte, N.C., climbs a flagpole to remove the Confederate battle flag at a Confederate monument in front of the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday, June, 27, 2015. She was taken into custody when she came down. The flag was raised again by capitol workers about 45 minutes later. | Bruce Smith AP

Update: City Council has voted to urge the removal of the flag

Just in this morning: Myrtle Beach City Council is discussing the flag and will vote on a statement of support for Gov. Haley’s call to have it removed from State House grounds.

Related: Let’s be clear: The Confederate flag has always been demeaning to black South Carolinians, even during quiet periods

Related: Confederate flag hung from Boston memorial for black soldiers

I believe the focus should remain on the Confederate flag flying at the capitol, on State House grounds in Columbia - where it never should have been allowed. That’s a place for us all, and that flag never has - and never will - represent us all.

I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon begun by Walmart last week, when the world’s largest retailer, and Horry County’s largest private employer, said it was going to pull the flags from its shelves. That move was followed by the likes of Amazon, eBay, Sears and others.

I don’t think any of that was necessary. I think those retailers should sell the swastika, too, if they wanted to. (Of course that also means they have the right to not sell any particular item, including either of those flags.)

But the most intriguing development comes from NASCAR. I still see that as a sport that was birthed in the parts of the South where reverence for the Confederate flag was most pronounced - which is why you could see the flag flying at so many races.

I’m surprised NASCAR is taking this step, a distancing of itself from the flag that goes beyond what it said even last week:

"We will be as aggressive as possible to disassociate NASCAR events from an offensive and divisive symbol," France said. "We are working with the industry right now to achieve that goal."

NASCAR's earlier statement had indicated it would not act when it came to fans flying the flag on their own at races.

It said Tuesday that NASCAR "recognizes that freedom of expression is an inherent right of all citizens."

Read more here.

I understand if NASCAR fans feel betrayed, just as the Sons of Confederate Veterans feel betrayed by politicians who long supported them but have since run away from the flag - and fast - but that doesn’t mean these organizations are doing something wrong.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but over this past week, I’ve seen more large, Confederate flags flying from the backs of pick-up trucks in the Myrtle Beach area than I saw over the previous few years combined. Or maybe some folks are trying to make a not-too-subtle statement? If individuals can make that kind of decision, why can’t retailers?

What do you think?

Related: 5 Days That Left a Confederate Flag Wavering, and Likely to Fall

Related: Confederate flag pulled from S.C. capitol grounds by activists

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