Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A giant step backward

Brian France can endorse anyone for President he likes. He's an American. It's his right.

But when Brian France runs a motorsports empire that has invested so much time and money into broadening its appeal, it's time to play that venerable parlor game: What Was He Thinking?

Because there he was the other day, publicly endorsing the absolute antithesis of everything NASCAR allegedly is these days: Donald J. Trump, the game-show host whose genius for conning the rubes has him on the verge of the Republican nomination.

France's endorsement is more evidence of Trump's gift for convincing even supposedly intelligent people that up is down and down is up. He tells them he's a winner and they believe him, even though he has a list of failures a mile long and his lack of business acumen almost singlehandedly destroyed an entire professional football league in less than two years. He barely suppresses his contempt for what easy marks his followers are ("I could go out here and shoot someone in the street and I wouldn't lose a single vote," he marveled a few weeks back), and they cheer all the louder.

So maybe Brian France getting snowed by Trump isn't all that surprising.

It is, rather, the ultimate example of the demagogue's particular skill: Getting people to vote against their own interests by playing the old divide-and-conquer shuck. Trump has proved especially adept at this, convincing the rubes that dirty Mexican illegals or whining African-Americans or scheming Muslims are at the heart of all their troubles.  His race-and-religion-baiting has been nasty and divisive, and it's everything NASCAR has been trying to run away from for a generation.

And so: What are you thinking, Brian France?

He may, as he says, be endorsing Trump as an individual citizen, but it's virtually impossible to separate the France name from NASCAR. And so a France endorsement is a NASCAR endorsement. It's an endorsement of a man who blowholes about blacks and Mexicans and Muslims, who regularly has them set upon and thrown out of his rallies --  and yet who is glaringly non-judgmental when it comes to the Klan and other white supremacists who've openly endorsed him.

Again: What is France thinking?

France's NASCAR has made a big deal about its diversity programs. It's openly discouraged the waving of the Confederate stars-and-bars favored by all those aforementioned white supremacists. Yet now it's going to become the Sport of Trump? The sport of a man whose major constituency seems to be the wavers of those very same flags?

So much for all that happy talk about diversity and broadening the fan base.

Meet the new NASCAR, America. Same as the old NASCAR.

No comments:

Post a Comment