In the midst of an escalating Covid crisis in the US, on the back of historic protests over racial injustice and police brutality, and with the economy in the ground, the American president Donald Trump has seemingly made none of those issues the central point in his reelection campaign. Instead, he's decided to take on the clear and present threat of "woke" culture.
Trailing massively to Joe Biden in successive opinion polls ahead of November's election, Trump delivered a weird, divisive, and dark speech on 4th July at Mount Rushmore, suggesting that the tearing down of statues and monuments of historical figures was the greatest threat facing America.
As part of all this, it's no surprise to see Trump use sport in his culture war. In 2017, he continuously made hay by tweeting and making speeches about NFL anthem protests, and Colin Kaepernick in particular. Trump turned the protest into a national fight that he ultimately won when the NFL banned all protests, something they this year admitted was wrong.
Now, he's attempting again to stoke a war with by going after another black American sportsperson, Bubba Wallace.
Wallace, who is NASCAR's only black driver, had a noose found in his garage at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama just over two weeks ago. Wallace had campaigned succcessfully to have the confederate flag banned at NASCAR events, and it was thought this was a message left for him in response. As it turned out, an investigation showed the noose had been in the garage for some time and was not directly targeting Wallace, but the FBI and NASCAR have confirmed that a noose was in fact present and found by the team. Despite no doubt having those facts, Trump still decided to attack the driver on Twitter, demanding an apology and calling the whole thing a hoax, which is factually wasn't.
Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
In 2020, a black man has a noose found in his garage and the President of the United States demands he apologise for it.
Imagine being so racist that you demand an APOLOGY from a Black guy who found THIS hanging in his stall pic.twitter.com/cTePEDlrTP
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) July 6, 2020
Wallace, in response, called anyone calling the incident a hoax "simple minded."
.@BubbaWallace on those who believe the noose incident was staged: “It’s simple-minded people like that, the ones that are afraid of change, they use everything in their power to defend what they stand up for... instead of trying to listen and understand what’s going on.” pic.twitter.com/FikMntalwO
— The View (@TheView) June 23, 2020
As well as that, NASCAR, a sporting organisation revered by conservative Americans, also responded angrily in defence of their driver.
We are proud to have Bubba Wallace in the NASCAR family and we commend his courage and leadership. NASCAR continues to stand tall with Bubba, our competitors and everyone who makes our sport welcoming and inclusive for all racing fans.
It's difficult to see where Trump's support is coming from on this one.
Trump wasn't done with his attacks on sport yesterday. He later decided to have a pop at the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians for considering changing their names.
President Donald Trump criticized the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians on Twitter for considering changes to their respective team names, accusing the teams of "trying to be politically correct." https://t.co/UrxQlswgKs
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 6, 2020
It doesn't stop.