Petty by Nature: Why Can’t NASCAR Drivers Take A Knee?

There’s a few NASCAR owners out there who should well and truly be ashamed of themselves for showing their true colours and aligning themselves with a political figure, rather than accepting the rights of its participants to express dissent if they so wish.

The NFL has dealt with some players kneeling when the national anthem is played, and has avoided taking the idiocracy route of pandering to the most common denominators of political grey matter by allowing the (quite obvious but apparently not so obvious) freedom to protest.

If an individual is prevented the right to show dissent, you are living in a dictatorial system and a bit of cloth that supposedly represents the very thing that is being suppressed isn’t going to change that. The NFL as a sporting body dealt with it in the right way, by not getting involved. We have to realise that this isn’t about the NFL or NASCAR “allowing” its participants to be expressive, but about NOT disallowing it.

NASCAR on the other hand has suffered a PR disaster by toeing the line and showing its ugly underbelly. Any driver or pit crew seen to be protesting will apparently be fired, highlighting that the red blooded rhetoric about freedom is only word-deep, and can be announced at the same time as doing the complete opposite without so much as a morsel of hypocrisy, unless you’re Dale Earnhardt Jr.

What says freedom more so than orchestrating a false unification and pressing mute on the drivers and race staff? As sports fans, we like to get away from the real world and political rhetoric, it is the opiate of the masses, but the freedom of participants to express, whether agreeable or not, shouldn’t be brushed over in a threatening manner to the degree that some in NASCAR have dealt with this scenario.

The Democratic People’s Republic of NASCAR owners have highlighted an anti-democratic stance, and do nothing to prevent the knuckle-dragging genericness that people tend to misplace on the average NASCAR fan.

NASCAR owners Richard Petty and Richard Childress emerged from the woodwork and the 1930’s with their fangs frothing, clearly desperate to spit bile over the rails and onto the fanbase. Petty, who seems by name and nature, said,

“Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country. Period. What got ’em where they’re at? The United States.” – Richard Petty

Richard Childress, another owner who has probably been waiting desperately for something like this to happen too added,

“Anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it. This is America.” – Richard Childress

There’s nothing wrong with nationalism if it comes from a harmless personal root, but throwing blanket statements around with vitriol and missing the point like these guys definitely have can get nasty, and they have used a situation that didn’t have to involve them as an excuse to ironically make anti-freedom statements whilst commending those that have died for freedom. How many layers does this trifle of psychosis have?

These statements do nothing to catch the reason why this all started in the NFL in the first place either. It also serves as a deeper game of smoke and mirrors. If we’re talking about the rights of multimillionaires who drive in circles or throw a football, then we’re not talking about the average demographic either.

This is a topic of censorship more than anything. The owners in question have the freedom to express their own beliefs, regardless of how much it paints them as regressive, but one thing that isn’t acceptable is to use your freedom of expression to deny the freedom of others. Dissent is the only thing that holds a government to account, and if we lose dissent within the sporting arena too, nothing in our respective competitive bubbles will be challenged either.