The FBI informed NASCAR on Tuesday that no one was trying to intimidate black race car driver Bubba Wallace with a symbol of hate from the days of the Ku Klux Klan, contrary to what the organization apparently believed. After a thorough investigation, federal law enforcement officials discovered that the “noose” found hanging in Wallace’s team garage…is actually found in pretty much every other garage on the premises as well. It’s not a racist decoration, it’s the standard pull rope used to pull down the garage door.
“The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall. This was obviously well before the 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment,” NASCAR said in a statement.
You’d think that this mystery could have been solved without the assistance of the FBI.
Apparently, though, Wallace is too embarrassed and/or juiced up by his new status as the Great Black Star of NASCAR to admit that he was wrong.
“I’ve been racing all of my life,” Wallace told CNN’s Don Lemon. “We’ve raced out of hundreds of garages that never had garage pulls like that. So people that want to call it a garage pull and put out all the videos and photos of knots being as their evidence, go ahead, but from the evidence that we have – and I have – it’s a straight-up noose.”
Yeah, okay. It’s a noose. Guess what? Nooses aren’t just used for hanging black people in the post-Reconstruction South. They are legitimate knot-loops that can be useful in a variety of situations…as is evident by the fact that they are apparently used to pull down garage doors at NASCAR. We know it’s always disappointing when you can’t point at something and yell, RACISM, at the top of your lungs, but that’s just the way life goes sometimes.
Maybe we’re being too harsh on Bubba. And we don’t necessarily blame NASCAR for taking this situation seriously; if it really had been a noose directed at Wallace, that would have been an ugly incident deserving of investigation. It’s just too bad that the organization couldn’t conduct that investigation with a little less hype. Not every hate crime of this sort turns out to be what it appears at first glance.
Indeed, going by our memory of the last five years or so, they almost never do.