NASCAR released an official statement Monday regarding the protests being held nationwide at the start of many major sporting events while the national anthem plays, most prominently NFL games.
These protests involve players taking a knee during the anthem to acknowledge racial injustice, and players linking arms to show solidarity.
From NASCAR, “Sports are a unifying influence in our society, bringing people of differing backgrounds and beliefs together. Our respect for the national anthem has always been a hallmark of our pre-race events. Thanks to the sacrifices of many, we live in a country of unparalleled freedoms and countless liberties, including the right to peacefully express one’s opinion.”
The statement followed a weekend of controversy as several NASCAR team owners indicated that their drivers and crew would face repercussions if they took part in the protests, seeing them as expressions of disrespectful to the country and the flag. These statements were given support on social media by President Trump, who decried the NFL and NFL owners positions, praising the NASCAR owners and drivers who rejected the protests.
The owners’ statements and Trump’s response were followed by a tweet from Dale Earnhardt Jr supporting peaceful protest:
All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable-JFK
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 25, 2017
Richard Petty took the opposite stand, according to USA Today. “Anybody that don’t stand up for that ought to be out of the country. Period,” Petty said, according to USA Today. “If they don’t appreciate where they’re at . . . what got them where they’re at? The United States.”