When your views are more reactionary than arguably the most socially conservative sport in the most socially conservative part of the country, you just might be a fringe character on the far-right of the political spectrum. That is precisely where you will find President Trump these days.

President Trump on Monday said via Twitter that NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace should apologize to those who stood beside him after his racing team discovered a noose in his garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway on June 21, describing the incident as a “hoax.” Trump added an assertion that the Wallace incident combined with NASCAR’s ban on the Confederate flag at its races have led to historically low television ratings for the stock-car circuit. . . .
During a White House briefing later Monday, [White House press secretary Kayleigh] McEnany insisted that Trump was not weighing in on the wisdom of NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag.
“I spoke to him this morning about this, and he said he was not making a judgment one way or the other. The intent of the tweet was to stand up for the men and women of NASCAR and the fans,” McEnany said.
Pressed on why Wallace should apologize, McEnany said: “Well, look, the FBI, as I noted, concluded that this was not a hate crime, and [Trump] believes it goes a long way if Bubba came out and acknowledged that as well.”
Reporters pointed out that Wallace has done that, writing in a June 24 tweet that he was relieved “that the investigation revealed that this wasn’t what we feared it was.”

Trump’s allegation about NASCAR’s low ratings was false, and the rest is indicative of Trump’s turn to overt suppression of African Americans’ call for racial justice.

The president wants an African American sports figure to shut up and accept “blame” for raising the racial consciousness of a sport. Wallace has nothing to apologize for, but Trump does not need a reason. His apparent motivation is to denigrate, discredit and defame an African American man for not getting with the Trump program of saluting traitorous white nationalists who lost the Civil War.

Tyler Reddick, one of Wallace’s fellow drivers, slammed Trump: “We did what was right, and we will do just fine without your support.” Fox Sports NASCAR reporter Bob Pockrass also tweeted a defense of Wallace, and even reliably subservient Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) pushed back against Trump: "I don’t think Bubba Wallace has anything to apologize for,” Graham said on Fox News Radio. “You saw the best in NASCAR. They all rallied to Bubba’s side. I would be looking to celebrate that kind of attitude rather than being worried it’s a hoax.” Someone might ask Graham why he still supports a president who has made racism and idolization of the Confederacy central to his reelection effort.

This is not three-dimensional chess. Trump’s decision to double down on Confederate symbols is bad strategy. It reflects who Trump has always been (from his calls for execution of the Central Park Five, who were later exonerated, to his effort to delegitimize the first African American president by calling into question where he was born). He refuses to see — or does not care — that the vast majority of Americans reject his extreme views and side with those seeking, in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, to make good on the “promissory note” in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and to cash "a check that will gives us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” Trump seems to think the bank has limited funds and does not want “them” getting paid for fear there will be less for him and his cowering white-grievance-mongers.

Trump makes it so dreadfully difficult on his determined enablers. Just when they have concocted rationalizations for his Fourth of July speeches replete with racial dog whistles, Trump drags out the bullhorn to announce, “Nope! This really is about race!” It’s about the so-called Lost Cause and the effort to sanitize what cannot be cleansed; to inject the Confederacy with nobility to which it has no legitimate claim; and to rile up a small segment of white America in a last gasp attempt to hold on to power.

For the four-year effort to excuse, ignore and defend this president, Trump’s loyalists in the Senate and up and down the ballot will, we hope, be drummed out of office. The president supposedly seeks to make this election a referendum on the Civil War, on equality and on the post-Civil War constitutional amendments (13th, 14th and 15th). I bet the Union will win again.

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