NASCAR Follows NRA Off the Roof
by Bob Schwartz
The National Rifle Association jumped off the public relations roof in the wake of Newtown and the legislative attempts to curb gun violence.
Which is fine. The First Amendment guarantees the right of individuals or groups to jump off any rhetorical roof, so long as no one is harmed (except maybe for the jumper). There is money to be made and power to be gained by taking extreme or contrarian positions, sometimes the louder and more insistent the better.
But as your parents advised you—though you may have willfully ignored the advice—just because Johnny jumps off the roof doesn’t mean you should do the same.
As recently as last September, the NRA sponsored a NASCAR race, the NRA American Warrior 300 in Atlanta.
Today it was announced that the NRA will be sponsoring a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway this April, to be called the NRA 500.
Something happened between September and April: Newtown, Sandy Hook, twenty children slaughtered.
The NRA believes that if anything happened, it only makes it more important than ever to pretend that nothing happened, or to pretend that whatever happened can’t be prevented by any proposed measures, or to pretend that what happened is being unfairly used to threaten their existence and the Second Amendment. The NRA believes it has the support of millions, and that its obstruction is massively appreciated, all national polls to the contrary. It believes that even if it is jumping off some roof, there is a safety net to catch it.
NASCAR may believe that it will be caught by that same safety net, since many NASCAR fans are also gun owners, if not NRA members. NASCAR may feel it is caught between a rock and a hard place: damned if they continue to work with the NRA, damned if they don’t. Of course, even many NRA members are skeptical, some embarrassed, by the NRA’s current extremism and obstruction. On top of that, the NRA PR safety net, even if it does still exist, is probably big enough for just one.
Maybe an NRA race this April won’t be such a big deal for NASCAR. But maybe it will be. If it is, NASCAR shouldn’t expect that there will be a net to catch it. We will know in the days to come whether this is a brilliant move, just business as usual, or a thud.