Bubba Wallace and the wave of dubious hate

The NASCAR driver mistook a garage door pull rope for a noose.

Wilfred Reilly

Topics Politics USA

So, it happened – again.

On Tuesday, 23 June 2020, the US FBI announced that no hate crime had been committed against NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace. Wallace, the American stock car racing circuit’s best (never to say only) black driver, discovered a rope tied so as to resemble a noose inside his racing garage on Sunday 20 June. After an African-American member of his team reported the ‘noose’ to NASCAR top brass, the immediate reaction was international and apoplectic. NASCAR issued a press release and public statement denouncing the rope, Wallace appeared live on The View and CNN with Don Lemon. In a genuinely moving display of support, drivers and pit crew for almost every other car entered in a major 21 June race at Talladega Speedway walked slowly behind Wallace’s vehicle before the event began, in a nationally televised display of solidarity.

And then, almost inevitably – NASCAR garages are protected by some of the world’s best closed-circuit camera systems, and fans were banned from the track for all of June due to Covid-19 – the rope in question turned out not to be a noose. It was a garage door pull, used to shut vehicle bays, which had apparently been in that garage since October 2019. Having been tied using a slip-knot, it did to some extent resemble a hangman’s noose. However, close-up photographs of the thing indicate that a human adult would have had trouble forcing a hand, much less a head, through it. Further, according to CNN Online, ‘a thorough sweep of the 29 tracks and 1,684 garage stalls’ turned up at least 11 other pull ropes tied using complex knots – although honesty compels me to note that none looked as ‘noosey’ as the rope in Wallace’s stall. The FBI tersely and correctly summarised the entire situation thus: ‘No federal crime was committed.’

The Wallace incident does not stand alone among dubious accusations of racial and class abuse during just the past two weeks. On 18 June, police in Oakland, California, took down five ropes attached to trees in that city’s popular Lake Merritt park, after citizens reported ‘nooses’ to the cops and on social media. However, a black resident almost immediately stepped forward to note that he put the ropes up as exercise equipment… and that they in fact looked nothing like hangman’s nooses, with one having a large piece of plastic PVC pipe dangling from it.

One day before, on 17 June, a black man claimed that he and a friend had been provoked into fighting with and beating a white Macy’s manager by the shopkeeper’s unprompted use of the word ‘nigger’. However, by 26 June, both the beating victim and a friend who was on the phone with him at the time had stated for the record that no racial slur was ever used, and police had issued an arrest warrant for the black male responsible for ‘an unprovoked attack’. Meanwhile, over on the other side of the political spectrum, the claim by a group of New York City Police Department officers that they had been served bleach by activists working at the local Shake Shack similarly collapsed: an investigation by the NYPD found no crime, and detectives posited that their unlucky colleagues probably just drank milkshakes from a machine that had recently been cleaned.

This is nothing new. Early in 2019, I wrote an entire book, titled Hate Crime Hoax, about the all-too-frequent phenomenon of high-profile racial incidents turning out to be flamboyant misunderstandings or out-and-out fakes – and more than a dozen notable cases have taken place since that publication. While absolutely no one doubts that mundane incidents of racist violence, located outside a country bar or tough black club at closing time, actually take place, it is also indisputable that a great many media stories of non-fatal racial conflict have turned out of late to be false. Over the past five years, the shortlist of these would have to include: Bubba Wallace, Jussie Smollett, Covington Catholic, Erica Thomas and the alleged grocery store harangue, the DC ‘dreadlock cutting’ case, the lovely young black girl who claimed she was urinated on by white bigots in Michigan, the ‘JCC’ bomb threats, Yasmin Seweid and the hijab-tearing train attack, the Rolling Stone rape hoax, and the burning of Hopewell Baptist. Nor is this a pattern unique to this decade. Any connoisseur of the genre has to be aware of OG cases like Duke Lacrosse, Sabrina Collins, Azalea Cooley, and Tawana Brawley.

Whatever the percentage rate might be, the sheer fact that there are enough of these very high-profile stories to fill a 300-page book raises some questions. The first might be: what are the signs of a likely hate-crime hoax? While there are several poker tells here – the involvement of known activists on left or hard right, the absence of any corroborating evidence in camera-laden US or UK cities – the most obvious to me is the unlikely cinematic story. Real crime tends to be stupid and mundane: local teens clumsily stole a bicycle from my porch this week, for example; street fighters often clumsily break their own hands throwing punches. In contrast, Juicy Smolliet dreamed up a story where two big men wearing bright red MAGA hats, and carrying a noose and a gallon bottle of bleach through a Chicago nightlife district, attacked him at 2am during a blizzard – but he fought off both of them without ever dropping his Subway tuna salad sub (admittedly a fine sandwich). I ask: what are the odds of that scenario having ever actually taken place?

As a specific sidebar, it is worth noting that a consistent sub-theme of such ridiculous stories is the invocation of archaic racist symbols no longer in regular urban use even on the hard right – nooses, Klan robes, (incorrectly drawn) swastikas, and so forth. There clearly is a knuckle-head right, just as there is a bomb-thrower left, and it would frankly be no surprise to see Proud Boys polos, Confederate or old English flag tattoos, or Pepe or Groyper masks represented among a group of lads brawling with Antifa. But there simply aren’t many active members of the Ku Klux Klan today – even in the deep American South, much less in Lorain County, Ohio, our northern ally of Canada, and most of the other places where members have been ‘spotted’ of late. ‘Klansmen’ reported on Lorain’s Oberlin College campus turned out to be a group of students playing a prank; similar sightings on Bowling Green’s campus turned out to be pieces of lab equipment behind a window blind; and those sighted at the University of Missouri in 2015 apparently never existed at all. This pattern, no doubt, extends beyond those three fine schools.

Why would anyone do this at all? Why falsify such a crime? Again, there are several common answers: insurance money, to have a laugh, general anger at a campus opponent of a different gender or race. But there is also one broad and very common answer: we have attached a considerable value to victim status in the modern US and UK. Those who exaggerate or falsify hate incidents must by now be aware they are very unlikely to be punished or even mocked for doing so. Jussie Smollett, a second-tier actor at best before his hoax, led off Good Morning America in the immediate aftermath. Even Bubba Wallace, by all accounts a good guy and no hoaxer in any real sense, probably did more top flight TV during the past week than the previous entirety of his career.

Further, underlying individual claims by such alleged victims, an entire industry exists to publicise incidents such as these. It is no exaggeration to say that, for amoral fundraising purposes, Al Sharpton and Shaun King, and the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Council for American-Islamic Relations and all the rest, want – need? – that garage rope to be a noose. Without ever sinking to disgusting abuse of real victims, ordinary citizens should be aware of this incentive, and when someone claims they were attacked by the Ku Klux Klan in center-city Chicago, consider asking questions beyond: ‘How terrible! How can we apologise?!’

Wilfred Reilly is a spiked columnist and the author of Taboo: 10 Facts You Can’t Talk About, published by Regnery. Follow him on Twitter: @wil_da_beast630

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Ken Maclaren

11th July 2020 at 9:28 pm

Funniest comment I heard was from The Hodge Twins, ‘man that noose ain’t big enough to hang a black hamster.’ The moral of the story must surely be ‘check with Dave Chappelle before claiming a crime.
Even in NZ the tv hosts couldn’t do enough to condemn the ‘good old southern boys in Nascar.’ I waited in vain for an climb down the next day.

Hank Bithert

6th July 2020 at 11:42 pm

What is the is the difference between implying that Bubba Wallace perpetuated this hoax and perpetuating a hoax? Mr. Reilly’s article causes many readers to conclude that Mr. Wallace was somehow behind the fake noose. His lame admission that Bubba Wallace was not an actual hoaxer near the end does not undo the damage done by linking Bubba’s name to verified hoaxers. Mr. Wallace did not initiate the complaint, he did not report the noose, he did not ask the FBI to investigate. He in no way instigated the report of a noose. Yet, Mr. Reilly clearly wants readers to believe he did. How is creating this false narrative any different from creating a hoax? It is a despicable article that brings much shame to Mr. Reilly.

steve moxon

6th July 2020 at 7:56 pm

It’s NOT RACE that evokes prejudice its being MALE & ‘DIFFERENT’.
Hate crime victims are 68% male, 28% female, according to DEMOS (Walters & Krasodomski-Jones, 2018) — more than 2:1. This is echoed in the CPS Hate Crime Data Reports, which for 2016-2017 showed totals of 6,452 male and 3,731 female victims, and for 2017-2018, 6,003 male and 3,566 female victims. Buried in the data are breakdowns by sex of victim for each hate crime domain, in each of which there are (far) more male than female victims, with the exception of the ‘trans-phobic’ domain, where the sex differential is reversed through male-to-female transsexuals (mis-)recorded as being female (trans-women), notwithstanding that they remain clearly male in appearance (see below). The fully across-category excess of male victims of hate crime demonstrates that in the intersection of sex with other protected characteristics, sex trumps all.

David McAdam

6th July 2020 at 5:18 pm

If people believe the myth don’t print the truth just keep printing the myth.

James Knight

6th July 2020 at 5:04 pm

It hardly matters that you can’t “get your head” in it. It was implied to be a hate crime which turned out to be false. In a febrile atmosphere, I can see how some might be overly suggestible. But I cannot for the life of me figure out why people would tie a loop of rope in a knot like a hangman’s noose.

David McAdam

6th July 2020 at 5:17 pm

It is a common knot on farms for securing bales on trailers etc. I tied many without remotely making any connection with a noose. Just shows what paranoia has done to the modern mind in this age of race obsession.

Barbara Baker

6th July 2020 at 4:47 pm

I noticed zero pushback on this slur from NASCAR and no retraction from Bubba Wallace . If these companies will not defend their organisations, then they allow the narrative to continue. A response of “no federal crime was committed” doesn’t really cut it – maybe they really are all racists?

James Knight

6th July 2020 at 5:05 pm

I think he gave an apology, well kind off.

Barbara Baker

6th July 2020 at 6:04 pm

Ah so – I stand corrected thank you. It sort of passed me by for sure.If I am wrong I am happy to admit it though

Dominic Straiton

6th July 2020 at 4:38 pm

I dont know the figures in this country but fakehatecrimes.org does a pretty good job of recording all the ones in the US. Interesting reading. Lots of it.

Ed Poncin

6th July 2020 at 3:59 pm

All of these fraudulent claims serve the narrative ( sorry, THE NARRATIVE ).
The truth has never been a friend to the political fraudsters and racial hucksters.

And if you happen to be “white”, that is prima facie evidence that you are racist.

Jules Hardiman

6th July 2020 at 3:08 pm

To be fair to Wallace, it has been noted in various articles that he did not see the door pull himself, it seems it was reported by someone not associated with his team. So it was either a genuine mistake by someone not familiar with the garages at the track or was deliberately used to wind everyone up.

Michel Houllebeq

6th July 2020 at 1:26 pm

The only racism going around which needs to be addressed is systemic Anti-White racism everywhere you look backed up by the Institutions in Government, Media, Academia, etc.

Poor Working-class white man flies White lives banner – him and partner loses job, lifetime ban from his local football team, and police look into any crimes committed(none) while brown female “professor” says white lives don’t matter and want to break the legs of white men get a promotion by Cambridge University.

How much more obvious do the double standards and anti-white racism have to be?

Jim Lawrie

6th July 2020 at 10:06 am

There is a town in Scotland called Nigg. Should Nigg be nuked?

Ed Poncin

6th July 2020 at 3:50 pm

Only if it’s “twinned” with a town called “Er”.

Dean 61

6th July 2020 at 10:02 am

Of course some of the biggest culprits are our modern day media who don’t let a search for evidence and facts get in the way of the latest Woke-ist narrative.

Matt Ryan

6th July 2020 at 9:21 am

If you are told racism is everywhere and anything you don’t like is a micro-aggression then you will find racism everywhere even when it doesn’t exist (almost all the time).

On top of this, the chancers come in and deflect away from actual cases of racism. They do their kind no favours and should be “called out” (to use the woke vernacular) by their community.

Mark Houghton

6th July 2020 at 8:45 am

1. Fabricate ‘evidence’ of racism
2. Make sweeping claims of ‘systemic racism’ and attack anyone who demands proof of such ‘racism’ as a ‘racist’

Robert Flack

6th July 2020 at 8:15 am

In other words it’s mostly self promotion. To be a victim means you have a need to be loved and put on a pedestal.

Bros Bro

6th July 2020 at 5:47 am

“Part of psychological subversion is the destruction of principle. When a person has principles, those principles serve as an anchor that stabilizes one’s psyche. Principles provide structure that allows one to make sense of the world and live in that world in a productive way. Without that, a person is lost in a turbulent sea of confusion and fear.

Psychological subversion involves disrupting this stability. This can be done purely out of maliciousness or it can be done in order to take control of the person. If a person’s principles can be undermined, that anchor, that structure is lost and the person will instinctively grasp onto anything else to replace that. A ruling power can take advantage of this”

Principles are sadly absent, both on the right and the left.

vivet vivet

6th July 2020 at 1:54 am


Gordon Te Gopher

6th July 2020 at 12:35 am

Check you out denying racism. In fact denying racism is actually racist.

Just like ropes are racist. Knots are racist. Garage doors are racist. Imaginary racist thugs in imaginary maga hats are racist. I’m pretty sure nascar cars are racist and even if they’re not, the trains in Thomas the Tank engine and barbecues are bare racist ‘cos someone in the Guardian said, therefore it just has to be true because everything they say is racist is actually racist.

And if you don’t give my comment an upvote then you’re racist. And don’t make the excuse that Spiked don’t do upvotes because that’s what a racist would say. Ya racist!

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