Homestead fans who booed first lady Michelle Obama should be ashamed of themselves; give NASCAR fans a bad name (WITH VIDEO)
I am thankful for a lot this Thanksgiving.
I have a wonderful family, including a beautiful 4-month-old daughter who has changed my life in ways I could never have imagined.
I have a job that I enjoy doing, which Is more than a lot of people can say (some might not even have a job at all).
And I have my health, so I can enjoy all the above.
And I’m thankful for something else, too: I’m thankful that I’m not one of the awful people attending the race at Homestead who felt the need to boo first lady Michelle Obama when she appeared at the race along with Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the vice president. These two women showed up in connection with a group that supports our country’s brave military members, and their families, so in a patriotic sport like NASCAR you would think they would be cheered like anyone else giving the command to start engines.
With a huge nationwide audience (the Homestead finale was the most-watched race broadcast on ESPN with a peak audience of 10.5 million), these yahoos in the crowd did the worst thing possible – they reinforced the belief that a lot of non-NASCAR fans have: that anyone who watches the sport is a racist , uneducated redneck.
Of course, that’s not true. Anyone who has followed the sport knows that there are all kinds of NASCAR fans: Some are smarter than others, but having been to tons of races I can say with confidence that a very small percentage would fall into the ignorant stereotypes that the sport’s detractors tend to portray.
So I was very dismayed when I heard the booing last Sunday, as I knew the type of reaction it would cause from the general public – which is exactly what happened when the clip of the booing spread to CNN and other mainstream media sources.
The free speech argument
Before I go any further, let me dispel the lame arguments people are using to try to defend this horrible display of disrespect to the nation’s first lady that unfortunately was aired for all the world to see.
IT’S FREE SPEECH, they scream and holler.
True, we do have the right to express our beliefs in America. And I’m not suggesting they didn’t have the right to speak their mind.
As a journalist, I cherish this right above all others. And if this had taken place at a political event, I wouldn’t have any issue. If President Obama and his wife had shown up at a rally to support his jobs bill, or some other scenario like that, boo all you want and line up the protest signs and chants. You have to right to speak out against politicians you don’t like.
Couple problems with applying that to Homestead, though. One, this wasn’t a political event, and it wasn’t even a politician – it was his wife. That’s just low-down to boo a guy’s wife, as if she has anything to do with whatever Obama policies you may disagree with. She’s his wife and the mother of his kids, not a policy adviser to him. Two, she was there standing beside a military family and spend the weekend drumming up support for military families, a cause that should be embraced by all. She did not mention any politics or even her husband’s name. By booing her, those fans were booing that military family in extension; and that’s completely ignorant.
If I was the first lady, I would have a really bad feeling about NASCAR fans right now – and that’s too bad, because most of us aren’t idiots like the boo-birds. She shows up for a good cause, and these fools try to inject politics into a nonpolitical appearance.
To top things off, conservative talkers made things worse in the aftermath. Notable nitwit Rush Limbaugh defended the booing, and added that a lot of people don’t like Michelle Obama because she acts “uppity”
"What the hell is there to cheer for?" Limbaugh asked. He said that people didn't like "paying millions of dollars" for Obama's vacations. "They understand it's a little bit of a waste," he said. "They understand it's a little bit of uppity-ism."
This guy (and the people who booed, many of whom are likely Limbaugh fans) just don’t understand how to talk or act like a respectable human being. You don’t use racist code words like uppity to describe the first lady, and you don’t boo someone who’s just trying to support a good cause. Her “vacations” have nothing to do with this Rush. It’s a matter of simple respect, something that far too many people fail to show these days in society in general. This is just the latest example of it.
Rudeness from left and right
Before you start calling me a whiny liberal who wants to suppress your right to boo Democrats, let me tell you that I know that this level of respect show be shown on all sides of the political spectrum.
The day after the Homestead incident, GOP candidate Michelle Bachmann appeared on the Jimmy Fallon show, and his house band (hip-hop group The Roots, led by drummer Questlove) played some very dubious intro music without her knowledge. The song was titled “Lyin’ Ass Bitch”, an obvious nod to the left-leaning band’s disapproval of the GOP candidate’s views.
Just like the booing of Obama at Homestead was not necessary and lacked respect, this is the exact type of situation occurring on the other side of the political spectrum. I happen to enjoy The Roots and their music, but I also recognize that they were way over the line to basically call Bachmann what the title of the song is. They have no business doing that, as it’s completely rude and yet another example of how nobody can have a healthy political discourse with their opposition nowadays without resorting to name-calling and insults.
Questlove is a smart man. If Bachmann bothered him so much, he could have gone on Twitter and started a conversation about Bachmann’s beliefs with the public. Or he could have written a column for a newspaper about whatever positions she had that he disliked. Playing an intro song that calls her a “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” is just not a good way to start any political discussion. He said he was trying to be “snarky”, but if that kind of rude name calling is acceptable our society has degenerated into a complete lack of civility.
Questlove later said, in a weak apology that nobody is buying: “The performance was a tongue-in-cheek and spur of the moment decision. The show was not aware of it and I feel bad if her feelings were hurt. That was not my intention.”
Come on dude. Calling someone that kind of name isn’t meant to hurt her feelings? Really?
So there you have it. People on all sides of the political spectrum are acting childish. We’ve gotten to the point where if anyone is associated with anyone we don’t agree with, we boo them and call them names. We act like children. Instead of recognizing that Michelle Obama was just there to support military families, these morons in the crowd decided to boo her based on the fact that her husband is president and they don’t like what he’s doing in office.
Simply pathetic, and it made me embarrassed to be a NASCAR fan. When I went online and read the deluge of “NASCAR fans are dumb rednecks” comments on Sunday night, I didn’t really have a reply, because that’s how the Homestead crowd had acted.
Now, almost a week later, on behalf of all the non-ideological NASCAR fans, I must say that we’re not all this bad. Most of us are good people who, whether or not we agree with President Obama, can be respectful when his wife comes to the racetrack to make an appearance.
And to the people who booed, do me a favor and don’t go to the races anymore: You give us NASCAR fans a bad name and I’d rather not see you around, or hear your ignorance come through my television set.
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