is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic
Falsely accusing someone of a hate crime should be a serious matter, especially in a time as tense as this. The eagerness with which everyone involved in the fake NASCAR noose affair pretends otherwise is doing America no favors.
President Donald Trump drew media flak yet again on Monday, for asking if driver Bubba Wallace has apologized to fellow drivers and NASCAR officials for the “hoax” – referring to last month’s scandal when a “noose” was discovered in the garage assigned to the African-American racer in Talladega, Alabama.
The FBI sent 15 agents to investigate the incident, but it didn’t take them long to confirm the findings of internet sleuths: the “noose” was in fact a handle on the garage door pull rope. In other words, it was a fake noose.
To the surprise of precisely no one, the mainstream media reacted to Trump’s tweet by white-knighting for Wallace. There was no hoax, they declared, and certainly not one pushed or perpetrated by the driver! Except that’s mind-reading and straw-manning, not a fact check.
Woah, wait a second. This is a straw man. Trump tweeted that the “noose” was a hoax. That’s true. He NEVER said it was ‘perpetrated by the driver.’ YOU read that into his tweet. This isn’t a fact check, it’s partisan gaslighting. pic.twitter.com/ze5MpgtSaD
— Nebojša Malić (@NebojsaMalic) July 6, 2020
Even a cursory reading of his tweet shows that Trump never accused Wallace of perpetrating the hoax. What he said was that Wallace should apologize to fellow drivers and executives who rallied behind him, carried him on their shoulders, and showered him with sympathy after the “racist” incident that was in fact nothing of the sort.
What do you call a false accusation of a crime? A hoax. Now, there is some confusion whether Wallace himself saw the alleged noose, or if it was someone on his team that raised hell about the garage opener. There is no doubt, however, that Wallace took the fake noose story and ran with it, even after the FBI investigation.
“It was a noose. It was a noose. Whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose,” he told CNN’s Don Lemon.
Wallace’s reaction to Trump’s tweet was a lengthy word salad claiming he was responding with love to “hate” from the president.
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) July 6, 2020
If this seems like Wallace “doth protest too much,” as Shakespeare would put it, that’s because he owes his current social status to claiming victimhood for the past month or so. He is yet to win any races, mind you, but he famously raced in a Black Lives Matter-themed car andgot NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from any of its venues in less than a day, all before the fake noose incident.
Wallace wasn’t quite so brazen as Jussie Smollett, who literally paid foreigners to stage a racist incident that Americans themselves wouldn’t commit so he could bask in the ensuing sympathy. That’s because Wallace didn’t have to stage his hoax. NASCAR itself seems to have done it for him.
Rushing to declare the “noose” a hate crime, the racing association implied its employees were racist, just as the flag ban insinuated the same of its fans. Judging by the reported TV ratings – up only by single digits even as Americans are desperate for a break from the months of coronavirus lockdowns and political riots – it seems the “wokeness” gambit isn’t exactly paying off.
In a healthy society, personal or corporate status wouldn’t be derived from claims of victimhood, real or imagined. Whatever side of the current culture war one may be on, pretty much everyone can agree that America is not such a society right now.
While accusations of hate crimes usually get wall-to-wall media coverage, the cases where they turn out to be false don’t get condemned. Instead, they get rationalized as maybe factually false but morally correct incidents that “start a conversation” and further the cause of social justice.
Nothing can be further from the truth. Such hoaxes only perpetuate lies and injustice, both personal and social. Seeking to benefit from them is disgusting and destructive. If it is allowed to continue, it will keep fanning the flames of division and hatred, until they consume us all.