The continued protests have moved things as no other effort has and has left Donald Trump and those Republicans who stand behind him looking out of touch…
Bending to the cultural moment, NASCAR and the NFL in recent days reversed course on their approach to athletes protesting racial injustice. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he had been wrong for not listening to protesting players earlier and encouraged “all to speak out and peacefully protest.” Meanwhile, NASCAR relaxed rules barring kneeling during the national anthem and banned Confederate flags from its events. Within days, a NASCAR driver was circling a track in a race car emblazoned with #BlackLivesMatter and a NASCAR official was taking a knee during pre-race ceremonies.
The moves came in response to the protests that have erupted across the country in response to the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died at the hands of the Minneapolis police. And they reflected shifting cultural attitudes — polls show an increasing percentage of the population view racism as a big problem in the country and the protests as a justified response.
Yet Trump stood his ground. He attacked Goodell, wondering whether the commissioner was telling players “that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the national anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?” And he separately lashed out about a blossoming discussion about renaming military bases named after Confederate leaders.
The changing tenor from the two leagues could be pivotal for Trump, though. The president has long leaned on the front offices of each organization as he has publicly attacked athletes who took a knee during the national anthem, and privately pressured some team owners to change anthem rules. Trump has also relished NASCAR’s historically conservative, Southern fanbase, praising them for being “patriotic Americans” and serving as the grand marshal of the Daytona 500 earlier this year. At rallies, he has praised racing fans for standing during the national anthem, and cursed at NFL players taking a knee….