Donald Trump’s false claim that NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace perpetuated a “hoax” with a noose-shaped garage pull found in his garage — along with his defense of the Confederate flag — is an attempt to “ramp up” his racism ahead of the presidential election, a political columnist said.
On Monday, Trump took to Twitter to make the false claim that the driver was part of a hoax after NASCAR initially announced that a noose had been found in his garage and that the FBI was investigating. Wallace had not been in the garage and did not see or report the rope, but Trump’s tweet claimed that the driver owed an apology 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?”
NASCAR officials later determined that what was initially described as a noose was a rope used to pull open the garage door and had been there for months. There was also no evidence that the claim was a hoax carried out either by Wallace or anyone on his team. Later in the tweet, Trump appeared to attack Wallace for speaking out against displays of the Confederate flag at NASCAR races, leading the organization to ban its display. The president claimed the “noose” incident and the ban on the Confederate flag have led to lower ratings for NASCAR.
As NY Magazine’s Adam K. Raymond wrote, it appeared that Trump’s unfounded attack on Wallace was part of a larger strategy to inflame racial tensions as a boost to his election.
“The tweet appears to be part of a broader strategy borne of Trump’s apparent belief that his only path to victory in November is ramping up his racism,” Raymond wrote. “He’s recently defended Confederate monuments and military bases named for confederate leaders, called Black Lives Matter a ‘symbol of hate,’ and said he may kill a policy meant to reduce racial segregation in housing.”
Others have accused Trump of pressing racial buttons in response to the growing national reckoning against systemic racism that has arisen after the killing of George Floyd. In two separate Fourth of July addresses this weekend, Trump took aim at what he characterized as left-wing mobs aiming to tear down Confederate statues and other monuments to figures with complicated racial histories. He has previously spoken out in defense of Confederate statues, including ahead of protests in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 that turned violent.