President Trump mounted an explicit defense of the Confederate flag on Monday, suggesting that NASCAR had made a mistake in banning it from its auto racing events, while falsely accusing a top Black driver, Darrell Wallace Jr., of perpetrating a hoax involving a noose found in his garage.
Mr. Trump’s reference to the Confederate flag, and its role in a sport whose mostly white fans Mr. Trump remains popular with, was the latest remark by the president as he tries to rally his culturally conservative base behind his struggling re-election effort.
While NASCAR and other organizations have moved to retire symbols of the Confederacy, and lawmakers in Mississippi voted to bring down the state flag featuring the Confederate emblem, Mr. Trump has increasingly used racist language and references to portray himself as a protector of the history of the American South. He has called the phrase “Black Lives Matter” a “symbol of hate,” and he has repeatedly tried to depict pockets of violence during protests against entrenched racism as representative of the protest movement as a whole. [Continue reading…]