I'm going to link to Dan's article, and you can peruse it your own self. But here's the quick sypnosis--NASCAR exploded in viewership over the past 10 years amongst white Southerners, who fly the Confederate Flag in the parking lot, and even at events. How can NASCAR expand into northern territory and into minority markets with the Stars & Bars flying? How can it take down the Stars & Bars without alienating its base?
Wetzel's premise is that white folks who fly the Stars & Bars are not necessarily racist, but feel a White Southern Pride, unhindered by that nasty business of the Civil War. After all, the Swastika was a symbol of peace before the Nazis got their hands on it! (Seriously, that's one of his arguments, go read it if you don't believe me).
Here's the deal, the Dan conviently overlooks.
1. The Confederate Battle Flag (not the CSA National Flag, Dan points out, just a battle flag, as if that makes it better) did not prexist the Civil War like the Swastika did. It was born of the Civil War. It is a product of the Civil War. It was not some appropiated symbol like the Swastika was. Cultures previous to the Nazi's can not be blamed for the Swastika. Cultures after it can be. Dan is playing with timelines in a misguided effort to be fair and balanced.
2. The Confederate Battle Flag, or The Stars & Bars, as I, a native Virginian call it, Died. It died a quiet death. Why his scholar (who he was quick to point out, "is black") didn't mention this, I don't know. But it isn't like South Carolina flew the damn thing for the hundred years following reconstruction. It was solely the property, in the 20's and 30's of the Ku Klux Klan. The State of South Carolina started flying it again in the 60's, when Black People got all uppity. They said it was temporary--a one week tribute to the losses suffered by White Folks fighting for Southern Pride. It flew for 30 years. The meaning was clear to every African-American person in that state.
2.5 I went to a high school named after a Confederate General. It's still named after him. There was a rumor that the name would change, and people exploded in anger. It was just a rumor. However, I read the paper when one of the schools in my conference all the way back in 1990 decided to cut the Confederate Flag from their mascot, and made it into a silhouetted flag. They did so because they realized their school was like 30% black, and 30% Asian and Hispanic, and 40% White. The White folks, in protest, marched up and down the street to the school, waving Confederate Flags and BURNING CROSSES. Tell me these aren't the same type of people who watch NASCAR.
3. Like it or not, NASCAR exploded about the same time it became clear that Basketball, Football, Baseball, and Golf(!) were no longer white sports. Sure, there had always been prominent black players, for at least for the last 30 years. But in the past 10 years, we've seen black General Managers, Black Quarterbacks, Black Coaches. The best golfer is a melange of minorities that any Stars and Bars loving man would describe as a product of "miscegnation".
NASCAR is almost exclusively White. Dan ignores the possibility that this very element of NASCAR is what attracts the White People flying the Confederate Flag. Dan should ask himself, what happens to NASCAR if the point winner next year is African-American? Might the white, southern, Confederate flag toting fans find a new sport?
4. The Stars and Bars are a source of White Pride. And I capitalize those words for a reason. It's White Pride. It's not Southern Pride. Black folks outnumbered White Folks in plenty of counties throughout the South when that flag was representing the CSA. It's a White Pride Flag. In Dan's research, he didn't bother to interview a few great southern Black Athletes as to what they thought about the flag, because he knew the answer. It's a White Flag.
To pretend that flag means different things to different people is silly on its face. It represents a time when Whites were on top, which is why all blacks hate it, why many Southern whites love it, and why most northern whites feel awfully uncomfy about it. It represents the exact same thing to everybody. The only difference is how we react to the memory of black people being subjugated. And NASCAR represents that world. No blacks, just heroic white folks, driving.
shame on them for trying to justify it, and shame on Dan Wenzel for trying to make it sound like there are two reasonable sides here. There simply isn't. NASCAR is, and probably always will be two things: 1) a waste of oil 2) a white person's playground.