Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the most popular name in NASCAR and someone unafraid to state his views. So on the heels of President Trump, NASCAR legend Richard Petty, and NASCAR team owner Richard Childress all coming out against national anthem protests, Junior has a much different view that has a stark warning:
He quotes a part of a speech from former President John F. Kennedy, who said this:
All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests. Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
After a chorus of comments like Richard Petty, who said he said he would fire any employee who kneeled during the anthem, we’re now starting to hear voices on the other side.
RPM co-owner, Andrew Murstein, has come out with a far more measured statement that doesn’t go nearly as far as The King’s rhetoric. Murstein said he would counsel his employees and wouldn’t fire them:
(NASCAR owners who spoke out today) are all proud Americans who have lived through world wars and turbulent times. While I respect their thoughts, and personally I think it’s wrong to kneel, I wouldn’t fire someone for expressing their feelings. I would sit them down and say, ‘It’s the wrong thing to do that and many people, including myself, view it as an affront to our great country. If there is disenchantment toward the President or a few bad law enforcement officers, don’t have it cross over to all that is still good and right about our country. The flag isn’t a flag of a few people; it stands for all of America. Yes, there are problems here — but they are nothing close to the problems in North Korea or other parts of the world. We must come together as Americans and respect everyone and everything — especially our flag, which is a symbol of the United States, the greatest country in the world.
This makes for an interesting dynamic at RPM — especially since it’s trying to attract the sport’s only African American driver, Bubba Wallace, to drive for the team. Some people see the anthem protests as blatant disrespect for the flag, while some athletes see it as protesting what they see as the unequal treatment of minorities.
The issue has come to the forefront in NASCAR as owners, and even the President, have weighed in.
President Trump sent out this tweet:
So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won’t put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag – the said it loud and clear.
President Trump recently called out athletes kneeling for the national anthem, and he has been especially critical of players in the NFL and NBA.
This came after team owner Richard Childress made a very strong statement regarding what he would do if someone on his team decided to kneel for the anthem, and he didn’t mince words before Sunday’s race at New Hampshire.
“Get you a ride on a Greyhound bus when the national anthem is over,” Childress said. “Anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it. This is America.”
Richard Petty said that anyone who doesn’t stand for the anthem should be kicked out of the country.
“Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country,” he said in remarks reported by the Associated Press. “Period. What got ’em where they’re at? The United States.”
Austin Dillon, the driver of the No. 3 on Childress’ team, told USA Today that NASCAR is a very patriotic sport and he doubts anything will happen at a NASCAR event.
“I don’t know how it would go over with the fans – we’re a very patriotic sport,” Dillon said. “I think our sport does a good job of showing that every Saturday, Sunday of showing patriotism and what the flag means. Not only that, we have a lot of military out here each and every weekend.
“I’ve got SEAL guys that will personally text me and say, ‘Hey, thank you for not moving around (during the anthem). … It means a lot to them just to stand at attention.”
It doesn’t seem like any NASCAR driver or team member will protest and kneel for the anthem. Several NFL teams have decided to protest, but it likely won’t carry over into NASCAR.
(h/t NBC Sports)